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Aloith tarolina Museum of Art Bulletin 

VOLUME XVII, 1997 




MC. DOCUMENT 
MfcR 91995 

mm 



Worth Imlim Msmm of Art Bulktin 

Volume XVII, 1997 



© Copyright 1997 

North Carolina Museum of Art 

Raleigh, North Carolina 

All rights reserved 

ISSN 0029-2567 

LC 64.-3282 



This publication is supported by a grant from Alice M. Welsh, with additional 
support provided by the Beth and George W. Paschal, Jr., Fund. 



Unless otherwise acknowledged, photographs have been provided by the owners of the works 
of art or by the authors of the essays. 

All works of art and all photographs appearing in the North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin are 
copyrighted. Unless otherwise noted, they are printed with the permission of the owners, whose coopera- 
tion the Museum gratefully acknowledges. 

All Feininger works© 1997 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 

All Kiefer works, with the exception of Resurrexit, © Anselm Kiefer 

All Ki rchner works © Ingeborg & Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern 

All Mueller works © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 



Cover: Detail from The Green Bridge II, by Lyonel Feininger 
See page 56. 



Worth tmlm Musmm of Art BuMin 

Volume XVII, 1997 



Foreword 

4 Lawrence J. Wheeler 



Panama Girls: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and the Urban Cabaret 
8 Jill Lloyd 

Two Nude Figures in a Landscape: A New Attribution 
20 Mario -Andreas von Liittichau 

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff's Portrait of Emy: A Moment of Transition 
40 Timothy O. Benson 

Lyonel Feininger's The Green Bridge II: Notes on War and Memory 
56 Peter Nisbet 

A "Gnostic" Triptych by Anselm Kiefer 
70 John Hallmark Neff 



The Legacy of W. R. Valentiner: Selected Acquisitions 
90 




W. R. Valentiner 

American, born Germany, 1880 — 1958 

Self- Portrait , circa 1901 

Ink and watercolor on paper 

Actual size 

North Carolina Museum of Art 
Bequest of W. R. Valentiner 



4 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



On 5 April 1997 the North Carolina Museum of Art observed its fiftieth birthday. The 
year-long celebration of this anniversary includes this issue of the Bulletin, which we dedi- 
cate to the Museum's first director, W. R. Valentiner. Though a man of catholic tastes, Dr. 
Valentiner (as he was invariably called) is often identified by his association with the 
German Expressionists. Four articles in this issue relate to works by the German 
Expressionist artists whom Valentiner championed, while the fifth examines an end-of-the- 
century heir to that tradition. 

Pre-eminent scholar, sought-after connoisseur, and master museum 
builder, the German-born Valentiner was a central figure on the American art scene for 
much of the first half of this century. As director of the Detroit Institute of Arts in the 1 920s 
and 1 930s, he guided the development of its distinguished collections as well as securing 
its international reputation. Subsequently, as co-director-consultant at the Los Angeles 
County Museum of History, Science and Art, he engineered its division, thereby helping to 
create the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. From there, Valentiner led J. Paul Getty's 
early efforts to establish his museum before being persuaded in 1 955 to become the first 
director of the North Carolina Museum of Art. He served here from 1 956 until his death in 
September of 1 958. 

A renowned art historian in fields ranging from Italian Renaissance 
sculpture to seventeenth-century Dutch painting, Valentiner was unbounded in his pursuit 
of untraditional expressions of artistic elan. Among the first of America's art museum direc- 
tors to recognize the aesthetic importance of African and pre-Columbian objects, he also 
was instrumental in bringing the art of the contemporary world to the attention of his col- 
leagues and the public at large. 

Following World War I, Valentiner deepened his friendships with the 
German Expressionists, began collecting their work, and made their achievements known 
through exhibitions and publications. In sponsoring the first show in America of German 
Expressionist paintings (at Anderson Galleries in New York in 1 923), Valentiner facilitated 
the introduction of this new and dramatic point of view. In 1 958, at this museum, he orga- 
nized the first comprehensive exhibition of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in the United States. Karl 
Schmidt-Rottluff (whose woodcut portrait of Valentiner appears on page 50) rightly con- 
sidered him the greatest friend the German Expressionists had. 



foreword 5 



The North Carolina Museum of Art benefits to this day from the high 
standards Valentiner set as director. The Museum benefits as well from his insight as a col- 
lector and his generosity as a donor. Fearing that regional attitudes would prevent the acqui- 
sition of twentieth-century art, Valentiner gave to the Museum paintings, sculpture, and 
works on paper by modern masters. (A selection of these works is pictured on pages 
90-95. His donations, it should be noted, were not limited to this period.) Particularly note- 
worthy among these gifts are the German Expressionist works, and three articles in this 
issue of the Bulletin are devoted to German Expressionist paintings left to the Museum in 
the Valentiner Bequest: Kirchner's Panama Girls, Schmidt-Rottluffs Portrait of Emj, and Two 
Nude Figures in a Landscape, which came to us as an Otto Mueller, an attribution which has 
often been questioned and is here being overturned. 

Additionally, the Valentiner connection has brought the Museum gifts 
in honor of this great and gentle man, offered by his friends, many of whose collections he 
helped shape. A fourth article focuses on such a gift, Lyonel Feininger's The Green Bridge II. 
The Bulletin also includes an essay on a seminal work in the Museum's collection, the trip- 
tych by Anselm Kiefer, a contemporary interpreter of the German experience. The Kiefer 
acquisition continues the tradition Valentiner established of promoting the art of one's own 
time, and, moreover, Valentiner funds (by exchange) helped pay for the painting. 

There is much greatness which the community of America's — and 
the world's — art museums celebrates in the life of W. R. Valentiner. This museum in partic- 
ular never tires of paying tribute to its first director. And the Valentiner name continues to 
inspire donors. Generous support from Alice M. Welsh, with additional assistance from the 
Beth and George W. Paschal, Jr., Fund, has allowed us to publish this somewhat expanded 
Bulletin, for which Associate Curator Huston Paschal served as curatorial coordinator. It is 
more than fitting that the issue be dedicated to the man, a scholar of enviable intellectual 
energy, who made possible, directly or indirectly, the acquisitions discussed in these five 
articles — and, incidentally, the man who in 1957 initiated this journal. We hope the schol- 
arship of the Bulletin's contributors — Timothy 0. Benson, Jill Lloyd, Mario-Andreas von 
Luttichau, John Hallmark Neff, and Peter Nisbet — will stimulate spirited exchange among 
art historians, which in itself would further honor the memory of Valentiner. 



Lawrence J. Wheeler 
Director 



6 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 




Foiword 7 




8 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Pflfifliiifl Cirk: twist Lurftv/g Kinhm mi thi Man Lnbartt 

Jill Lloyd 



Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's Panama Girls (fig. 1 ) depicts a frieze of dancing cabaret girls caught 
in the middle of their act. The dancers are set in a shallow, flattened space, and their jerky 
movements are suggested by the syncopated rhythms of color and line. Above the central 
horizontal axis, planes of pink, red, and blue are punctuated by the vertical accents of the 
dancers' hands. In the background, decorative arcs, which are echoed by the oval forms of 
the pink dancers' hair, introduce another compositional movement. The bottom half of the 
painting is dramatically simplified: it is made up of interlocking diagonals of black, bird-like 
legs against a yellow-green ground. The two halves of the painting are linked by the 
dapper red canes held in the blue-jacketed dancers' hands. 

Both the pictorial geometry and the artificial, mannequin-like pres- 
ence of the dancers in Panama Girls predict Kirchner's later treatment of urban themes in 
his threatening Berlin street scenes. But the mood in this particular work comes closer to 
comic irony. Painted at the turn of 1910-1 1, Panama Girls is a transitional work, repre- 
senting a summation of Kirchner's stylistic and thematic interests during the buoyant 
Dresden years and heralding his more sophisticated and troubled Berlin style. 

From the earliest years of their association, the Brucke artists were 
attracted to the lively urban scene around them. Like the other founding members of the 
group, which was formally established in June 1 905, Kirchner had trained as an architect in 
Dresden, and he made thumbnail sketches both of the city's attractive Baroque center and 
of the industrial landscape in Dresden-Friedrichstadt where the artists had their studios. It 
was here, in local bars and cafes, that they frequented variety shows, and by 1908, 
Kirchner — like the other Brucke artists Erich Heckel and Max Pechstein — began to draw 
and paint subjects derived from the cabaret and circus. 

There were, of course, precedents for these subjects in French Post- 
Impressionist painting. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Georges Seurat, for example, painted 
cabaret scenes with prostitutes, clowns, and bohemians — drifting people on the fringes of 
society who provided a metaphor for the status of the modern artist as an outsider. Kees 
van Dongen, a member of the Fauve group, was well-known for cafe-concert scenes that 
probably directly inspired the Brucke artists. 1 



1. Max Pechstein established contact with Van Dongen in Paris in 1908. That same year Van Dongen and other French Fauve artists exhibited alongside 
the Brucke artists at the Galerie Richter in Dresden. 



Lloyd 9 



Indeed, cabaret and variety acts 
began in France and moved to Germany in the mid-nine- 
teenth century, where they developed in two directions: the 
popular Tingeltangel and the high-class Varietepalast. The 
acts to be seen in both were varied, ranging from song and 
dance to comedians, acrobats, snake-charmers, magicians, 
and — after the British model — groups of women known 
as "sisters." Kirchner's dancers almost certainly belong to a 
group of this kind. 

By the turn of the century, the cab- 
aret had begun to attract the attention of many intellec- 
tuals and artists, who saw in its lively and popular status an 
opportunity for artistic reform. Otto Julius Bierbaum's 1 897 
novel Stilpe, for example, tells the story of a bohemian hero 
who founds a literary variety theater in the hope of renew- 
ing the relationship between art and life through the energy, free sexuality, and immediacy 
of the cabaret. Stilpe enthusiastically declaims his program: 

The Renaissance of all arts and the whole of life with Tingeltangel as a 
model! What is art today? A colorful glittering cobweb in the corner of 
life. We want to throw it as a golden net over the whole people and the 
whole of life. Then everyone will come to us in the Tingeltangel, they will 
flee the theaters and museums as anxiously as they flee the churches and 
we shall dance in a new culture. 2 

The Brucke artists would certainly have responded to the revolution- 
ary spirit of Bierbaum's imaginary cabaret. Their own program, announced in 1 906, called 
on "the youth of today who herald the future" to create "freedom in art and life in opposi- 
tion to the well-established old forces." 3 In Kirchner's early paintings of cabaret subjects like 
Tzarda Dancers (1909) and Tightrope Walker (1909, fig. 2), bright planes of contrasting 
colors, animated compositions, and extreme gestures infuse them with a Nietzschean 
vitalism, a "coming-alive" of the image that is very typical of this phase of Brucke art. The 
recurrent motifs of high-kicking dancers and tightrope walkers, which appear in both 
Kirchner's and Heckel's cabaret and circus scenes, are also Nietzschean images. In 
Nietzsche's /(prathustra the tightrope walker is used as a metaphor of transformation in a 
similar way to the bridge (which had inspired the name of the Brucke group). In the same 
book, Nietzsche writes: "Lift up your hearts my brothers, high! higher! And do not forget 
your legs too .... You higher men, the worst about you is none of you has learned to dance 
as a man ought to dance — to dance beyond yourselves." 4 




Fig. 2 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
Tightrope Walker, 1909 
Oil on canvas 

47 1/4 x 58 5/8 in. (120 x 149 i 
Private collection 



2. Otto Julius Bierbaum, Stilpe: Ein Roman aus der Froschperspektive, 24th and 25th ed. (Berlin, 1927), 357, 359. 

3. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Programm der Brucke. Repr. in Jill Lloyd, Cerman Expressionism: Primitivism and Modernity (New Haven, 1991), 15. 

4. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra (1883-85; Leipzig, 1923), 327-328. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, transl. 
(London, 1961), 301 -302. 



10 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Fig. 3 Erich Heckel 

German, 1883 — 1970 

Chinese Juggler on Stage, 10 May 1911 

Pen and ink and colored crayon 

on postcard 

3 1/2x51/2 in. (9 x 14 cm) 
Altonaer Museum in Hamburg 
Norddeutsches Landesmuseum 



The Brucke cabaret scenes draw freely on these literary and philo- 
sophical associations. But they also reflect the real experiences of the artists. The postcards 
that they exchanged on an almost daily basis are a fascinating record of the history of 
cabaret in early twentieth-century Germany. Kirchner, Heckel, and Pechstein visited all 
types of cabaret venues, and their postcards refer to famous acts like the Albion Sisters, 
who performed at the Wintergarten, the Apollotheater, and the Passageth eater in Berlin, as 
well as to more obviously down-market performances where, as Kirchner comments, "the 
women are a bit rough. "5 Friends and models, like the black circus performers Sam and Milli 
who appear in photographs of the Brucke studios and several paintings of the period, were 
increasingly drawn from this milieu. The young cabaret dancer Siddi Riha, whom the artists 
met in Dresden in late 1910, later married Erich Heckel. 

The Brucke artists also responded enthusiastically to the "exotic" 
nature of the cabaret acts they saw: Panama Girls is a case in point, as the title of the group 
suggests Latin American origins. Their postcards are peopled by Chinese jugglers (fig. 3) 




5. Postcard from Kirchner to Heckel, 8 January 1911, postmark Berlin (Altonaer Museum, Hamburg). 



Lloyd 11 



and Indian dancers; and several of Kirchner's paintings take up these exotic themes. 6 On 
one level, this reflects very directly a penchant for exotic acts: photographs in the popular 
press of the era frequently depict European girls posing as "Javanese" snake charmers 
(fig. 4) or "Egyptian" dancers. 7 It also coincides with Kirchner's growing interest in non- 
European art, which was stimulated both by visits to the Dresden Ethnographic Museum to 
see its rich collections and by more popular, ephemeral sources. In March 1910, for 
example, Kirchner wrote enthusiastically to Heckel: 

The Ethnographic Museum is open again. Just a small part of it, but this 
is a real enjoyment and a refreshment — the famous Benin bronzes and 
some things by the Pueblos from Mexico are still exhibited and some negro 
sculptures. A circus is here again and in the zoo Samoans and Negroes are 
coming this summer. 8 

Typically, Kirchner's emerging primitivism involved not just stylistic 
influences but also a romantic enthusiasm for primitive lifestyles, which was fired by the 
native "acts" staged in the zoos, circuses, and cabarets. This corresponded, in turn, to his 
Nietzschean quest for renewal and regeneration; and in this sense the primitive, exotic 
cabaret represented a potent mix. In Panama Girls, the frieze-like composition of dancers 
with their jagged, angular movements and gestures refers directly to a non-European 
source: namely, carved beams from the Micronesian island of Palau that Kirchner 




Fig. 4 Makara, the "Ja 
snake charmer 
Dresdener Illustnerte Neueste 
January 1910 




Fig. 5 Clubhouse of Palau (detail), 1907 

Palau Islands 

Carved and painted wood 

39 ft. 4 3/4 in. x 14 ft. 5 1/4 in. x 16 ft. I ii 

(l2 x 4.4 x 4.9 m) 

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin — Preussische 
Kulturbesitz. Museum fur Volkerkunde 
(VI 26 814) 



6. For example, Negro Dancer (1909/1920, Gordon 74) and Indian Dancer in a Yellow Skirt (1911, Gordon 189v). Reproduced in Donald 
Gordon, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Cambridge, 1968) 

7. For example, Berliner lllustrierte Zeitung, 2, 3, and 9 January 1910 and 5 and 30 September 1910. Also Dresdener lllustrierte Neueste, 
1 January 1910. 

8. Kirchner to Heckel, 31 March 1910, postmark Dresden (Altonaer Museum, Hamburg). Kirchner refers to the Zirkus Angelo playing in the 
southern suburbs of Dresden in spring 1910. 



12 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 




saw in the Dresden Ethnographic Museum (see fig. 5 for a related example) and sketched 
on a postcard to Heckel in June 1910.9 Even the color scheme of the painting, with the 
black, bird-like legs of the dancers against a yellow-green ground, recalls the yellow and 
black vegetable dyes used by the natives of Palau to color their carvings. 

These Palau beams, which were originally used to decorate men's 
clubhouses and depicted scenes from the daily life and mythology of the islands, were an 
important visual source for the Brucke artists. Carved in shallow relief, they relate in a very 
direct fashion to the artists' own woodcut carvings; and the overtly sexual subjects depicted 
on the beams, which include the myth of a native with a giant phallus penetrating women 
on a neighboring island, undoubtedly appealed to the young Expressionists, who regarded 
sexuality as a liberating force. 

A preparatory pen-and-ink drawing for Panama Girls (fig. 6) includes 
exotic background decorations referring to another non-European source that played a cen- 
tral role in Brucke art: the Buddha-like figure and lotus-leaf forms recall the illustrations in 
John Griffiths's book, The Paintings in the Buddhist Cave - Temples ofAjanta, Khandesh, India, 
which Kirchner copied in 1 91 1 (fig. 7) and which inspired several paintings by Kirchner 
and Heckel. 10 

In his drawing for Panama Girls, Kirchner plays off the exotic, curving 
rhythms of Ajanta against the spiky, angular style of Palau. Although the explicit references 
to Ajanta have disappeared in the painting, the compositional principles remain in the 
sweeping arcs behind the dancers, echoed by their hair, combined with the angular, 



9. Postcard from Kirchner to Heckel, 20 June 1910, postmark Dresden (Altonaer Museum, Hamburg). 

10. J. Griffiths, The Paintings in the Buddhist Cave-Temples of Ajanta, Khandesh, India (London, 1896-97) Erich Heckel's Redwing Girl (1909) and 
Kirchner's Five Bathers at the Lake (1911) are based on the Ajanta illustrations, which both artists consulted in the Dresden Central Library. 



Lloyd 13 




interlocking diagonals formed by their legs. Panama Girls, despite its jagged forms, also 
recalls the Ajanta illustrations in a more general sense, as the subject of dancing women 
occurs frequently in Griff iths's book. Kirchner's lithograph Four Dancers (191 1 , Dube 1 68) 
depicts exactly the same scene, but here the dancers as well as the background decorations 
are inspired by the curved style of Ajanta. In Panama Girls, the combination of the curving 
forms that appear in Kirchner's paintings of 1 909 like Tzarda Dancers and Tightrope Walker 
and the angular geometry that came to dominate his Berlin scenes make it a transitional 
work in terms of the artist's stylistic development. 

On the verso of Panama Girls (fig. 8), a fragment of an abandoned 
painting showing the bottom half of a women seated on a leopard stool, with legs splayed 
to reveal her sex, tells us more about Kirchner's primitivism. The stool is in fact a genuine 
African artifact from the Cameroons that was in Kirchner's possession and appears in a post- 
card sent by Kirchner to the collector and Expressionist scholar Gustav Schiefler on 
Christmas eve 1910 and in photographs of Kirchner's Berlin studio. 11 The fact that the stool 
appears after Gustav Schiefler's arrival from Hamburg to visit the Brucke artists in December 
1910 may suggest that it came from Julius Umlauffs Institute for Ethnography in Hamburg, 
which housed the most important private collection of art from the Cameroons in Germany, 
and which supplied other Expressionist artists with African objects. 12 Another possible 
source was Heckel's brother Manfred, who was working as an engineer in German East 
Africa and visited Dresden in the summer of 1910. Other African objects — presumably 
presents from Manfred — including a Tanzanian mask and African textiles — appear in 
studio scenes at this date. 

One such textile, which is preserved in the Brucke Museum in Berlin, 
features in a pair of paintings dated 1 91 by Kirchner and Heckel, showing Siddi Riha with 
a painted, mask-like face. Indeed, Kirchner's Nude with a Painted Face also includes an overt 
depiction of Siddi's sex, and the appearance of the leopard stool in another painting of Siddi 
by Heckel, Girl with Pineapple (1910), suggests that the abandoned fragment on the verso 



Fig. 7 Ajanta Cave I.J. Griffiths, The 
Paintings in the Buddhist Cave — Temples of 
Ajanta, Khandesh, India, plate 6. 

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
Two Flutists and a Dancer, 1911 
Graphite and pen and ink on paper 
9 3/8 x 7 1/8 in. (24 x 18 cm) 
Kirchner Estate 

Musicians and a Dancer, 1911 

Graphite, with color indications on recto, 

on paper 

II x 9 3/8 in. (27.9 x 23.8 cm) 
Kirchner Estate 



1 1 . This stool is now in the Budner Museum in Chur, Switzerland, where tests have been carried out to confirm its authenticity. The photographs show 
Kirchner's studio at Kornerstrasse 45, Berlin-Steglitz (Photo Archive, Kirchner Estate, Ingeborg & Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern). 

12. August Macke, who collected the ethnographic material for the Blaue Reiter Almanach in 1912 and began his collection of non-European art the 
same year, purchased objects from Umlauff. It is likely that Cameroon pipe figures in Karl Schmidt-Rottluff's possession by 1922 came from the same 
source and that the Cameroon figure he sketched on a postcard dated November 1909, postmark Hamburg (Altonaer Museum, Hamburg), was also 
seen at Umlauffs Institute. By 1913 Schmidt-Rottluff had acquired a similar leopard stool from the Cameroons that appears in photographs of his 
Berlin studio. 



14 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 




Fig. 8 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
Verso, Panama Girls (fig. i) 



Fig. 9 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
Two Pairs of Cabaret Dancers (sketch 
for Panama Girls), circa 1910 
Pen and ink on paper 
Sheet 18 x 14 in. (45.7 x 35.7 cm) 
Garton and Co., Wiltshire, England 
Photograph by P.J. Gates 
(Pho tography) Ltd 



of Panama Girls is a painting from the same series, showing Siddi in the studio, 
which Kirchner painted after Schiefler's visit in December 1910. The associations 
among the "primitive" African stool, the exotic fruit (which was a gift from 
Schiefler to the artists), and the female nude with her blatant sexuality relate to 
the Brucke artists' notions of primitivism. They doubtless believed that the 
women, children, and black circus artists and dancers who appear alongside the 
primitivist decorations in their studios remained close to their instincts and were 
thus capable of the Nietzschean regeneration they desired. In nineteenth-century 
Darwinian theory, women, children, and non-European people were thought to 
be at a lower stage of evolutionary development, and by viewing their models as 
"primitive," the Brucke artists inverted rather than truly undermined the Darwinian 
criteria of their day, evaluating them in a positive rather than a negative light. 

If the painting on the verso of Panama Girls was abandoned around 
Christmas 1910 and cut to a square format, Panama Girls was necessarily painted after this 
date. Given the preparatory stages of drawing and planning and the layers of oil paint in the 
finished work, it is unlikely that the painting would have been rushed through in the last 
days of the year. Although Panama Girls is dated 1 910 in the Kirchner catalogue raisonne, 
there is a barely legible date of 1 91 1 inscribed, in Kirchner's hand, on the lower right of the 
painting, which is undoubtedly correct. 

Two sketches survive. The first is an undated outline drawing in pen 
and ink capturing the movements and gestures of the four dancers, presumably made dur- 
ing or shortly after the performance (fig. 9). The 
more fully worked pen-and-ink drawing depicting 
exotic decorations (fig. 6) was sketched on a slightly 
larger sheet of paper and signed and dated 1910. 
Kirchner not only elaborates the background in this 
preparatory drawing but also begins to consider the 
tonal relationships that recur in the painting by 
blacking in the dancers' hair and legs. The dancers 
in the painting are copied very faithfully from this 
drawing, although some decorative details of the 
costumes are omitted along with the exotic back- 
ground scene. At the same time the square format 
of the canvas condenses the composition. 

The second preparatory 
drawing for Panama Girls (fig. 6) was used to 
illustrate the cover of the Expressionist magazine 




Lloyd 15 



Der Sturm, published by Herwath Walden in Berlin, which was an 
important forum for Expressionist art and a meeting place for the 
writers and artists of the movement. 13 Drawings of this kind, worked 
up in the studio from the raw material of sketches made on the spot 
in preparation for a painting, are rare during the Dresden years and 
are far more characteristic of Kirchner's Berlin street scenes, painted 
in 1 91 3-1 4. At this stage Kirchner used drawings of precisely the 
same dimensions as the pen-and-ink sketch for Panama Girls to 
work out the compositional geometry of the paintings, which he 
later described in terms of the artist's traditional role: "It is the task 
of the artist after all to sift through the richness of nature and 
to order it anew, to reform it so that what is meant shines forth, 
clear and pure." 14 

The diagonals, horizontals, and verticals in 
the composition of Panama Girls make it an unusually geometrical 
painting for its date. The repetition of forms also heralds Kirchner's 
street scenes, although in Panama Girls this has more to do with a 
visualization of dance and the influence of the Palau beams than 
with the consciously borrowed Futurist devices we find in paintings 
like Friedrichstrasse (1914). The repetitions and geometrical styl- 
izations in Panama Girls make the dancers appear like marionettes; 
yet there is not the same predatory, dehumanizing effect we find in paintings like Five 
Women on the Street (1913, fig. 1 0), which also depicts a group of women — in this case 
city prostitutes — set in a shallow, frieze-like space. Whereas these prostitutes stand in iso- 
lated pockets of space, looking in different directions, there is an intimate, even affectionate 
contact between the slightly comic couples in Panama Girls. Two of the girls, dressed as 
men, carry elegant red canes, and the couples seem to be setting out for a mechanical, bird- 
like walk in the park. There is certainly a sexual frisson in this coupling of women with 
women dressed as men; and it is worth remembering that, at the lower end of the scale, 
cabaret dancers and waitresses often doubled as prostitutes. 

In the summer of 1 910, Kirchner had visualized a very similar com- 
position to Panama Girls, depicting four figures with jerky, articulated movements, equally 
inspired by the visual example of the Palau beams, in his colored woodcut Bathers Throwing 
Reeds (fig . 1 1 ). The compositions and the movements of arms and hands are so similar that 
Panama Girls could almost be described as an urban version of Kirchner's earlier depiction 
of primitivist bathers, set in the Moritzburg lakes outside Dresden, where the artists spent 
their summers sun-bathing nude and swimming in the lakes. 




Fig. IO Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
Five Women on the Street, 1913 
Oil on canvas 

47 1/4 x 35 3/8 in. (120 x 90 cm) 
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. Colog: 



13. See Der Sturm, 29 April 1911. This was the first work by Kirchner to be published in Walden's magazine, although illustrations by Oscar 
Kokoschka, Max Pechstein, and Emil Nolde had been included before this date, and throughout 1911 many Brucke graphics were published. Kirchner's 
drawing for Panama Girls was presumably signed and dated for publication. 

14. Kirchner to Carl Hagemann, 27 February 1937, postmark Davos, Switzerland. Quoted in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 1880-1938, exh. cat. (Berlin: 
Nationalgalerie, 1979), 68. 



16 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



It was above all the experience of Moritzburg, which the Brucke 
artists first visited as a group in the summer of 1 909, that opened Kirchner's eyes to the 
relevance of non-European art. In Moritzburg the artists lived the life of modern primitives, 
seeking, like the members of the numerous nudist colonies that sprang up in Germany at 
the time, regeneration through nature in the face of a fast-developing and industrializing 
modern world. When Kirchner returned to Moritzburg in the summer of 1 91 0, he visualized 
his own experiences through the eyes, so to speak, of the Palau natives, depicting bathers 
and figures playing with boomerangs and bows and arrows in a fully fledged Palau style. 

Throughout the late nineteenth century, when artists in France 
and Germany moved out of the cities to artists' colonies like Pont-Aven in Brittany or 
Worpswede near Bremen, the search for a "natural" alternative to the pressures of city life 
revealed a growing consciousness of the negative onslaught of modernity. It was the same 
impulse that drove Gauguin, and later the German Expressionist artists Max Pechstein and 
Emil Nolde on the eve of World War I, to journey to the South Seas looking for alternatives 
to modern Western life. There is no doubt that a dichotomy between artifice and nature 
exists in Kirchner's work as well: on the one hand, he depicts cabaret, circus, and street 
scenes, and on the other, idealistic visions of bathers merging with the natural world that 
surrounds them. 

In Kirchner's case, however, the subjects set in the city and in the 
country are never simply black-and-white alternatives. After his move to the industrial 
metropolis of Berlin in 1 91 1 , we find more evidence of the negative, alienating effects of 



Lloyd 17 



city life. In his countryside paintings, now set in the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn, Kirchner 
often depicts small figures in extravagant urban dress invading virgin nature. In the city, the 
"primitive" is no longer seen entirely in positive, regenerative terms, but rather as a savagery 
simmering beneath the thin veneer of civilization. The Berlin street scenes are illuminated by 
lurid natural colors like fluorescent green and shocking pink and peopled by tribes of 
masked, marionette-like figures. 

This is in marked contrast to the Dresden years, when a vitalist, 
Nietzschean spirit animates both Kirchner's city and country themes. Panama Girls and 
Bathers Throwing Reeds both refer to the visual model of the Palau beams, and both relate to 
Kirchner's Expressionist desire to throw off the shackles of tradition and establish a more 
vital, spontaneous mode of existence, ruled by the forces of instinct. The urban cabaret, 
with its lively, unconventional acts, and the forests and lakes where the artists literally 
stripped off the trappings of civilization were both alternatives to the "well-established old 
forces." Yet in Panama Girls, for the first time, there is a shadow of a more compromising 
mood: their spiky primitivism also renders them artificial and marionette-like, rather than 
"natural." Although the effect is comic and ironic, it nevertheless heralds the paradoxical 
relationship between primitivism and modernity that Kirchner was to explore more fully in 
his Berlin street scenes. 



Jill Lloyd, a freelance curator and writer, is author of German Expressionism: Primitivism 
and Modernity. 



18 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



PROVENANCE 

W. R. Valentiner; to Valentiner Estate, 1958; to 
NCMA, 1965. 

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS 

Mannheim, Germany, Kunsthalle, "Ausstellung des 
Deutschen Kiinstlerbundes, " 1913; catalogue, no. 189 
(or 107 or 108). 

Beverly Hills, Paul Kantor Gallery, 
"Ernst Ludwig Kirchner," 8 April — 3 May 
1957; catalogue, no. 4. 

Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, 
"E. L. Kirchner, German Expressionist," 
IO January- 9 February 1958; catalogue, 
discussed 17, no. 12. 

Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, 
"Masterpieces of Art (Valentiner Me- 
morial Exhibition)," 6 April -17 May 
1959; catalogue, no. 130. 

Detroit, J. L. Hudson Gallery, "The W. R. Valentiner 
Memorial Exhibition," 18 November 1963 - 2 January 
ig64;catalogue, no. 20. 

Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, "Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: 
A Retrospective Exhibition," 23 November 1968 — 
5 January 1969, then traveling; catalogue, no. 24. 

Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art, 
"Celebration," 26 October 1974 — 5 January 1975; 
catalogue, no. 40. 

Berlin, Nationalgalerie Berlin, Staatliche Museen, 
"Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 1880-1938," 29 November 
r 979- 20 January 1980, then traveling; catalogue, no. 
109. 




Emden, Kunsthalle in Emden, "Tanz in der Moderne: 
Von Matisse bis Schlemmer," 26 October 1996 — 
26 January 1997. then traveling; catalogue, discussed 
46, no. 53, plate 61. 



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Bier, Justus. "Biennial Report of the Director, July I, 
1963 -June 30, 1965." North Carolina Museum of Art 
Bulletin 6 and 7 (1966): 79, illus. fig. 32. 

Gordon, Donald E. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner . 
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University 
Press, 1968, 68-70, illus. fig. 161. 

Bowron, Edgar Peters, ed. Introduction to 
the Collections. Raleigh: North Carolina 
Museum of Art, 1983, illus. 25. 



Schulz- Hoffmann 
Kirchner: Gemalde I 
Schirmer/Mosel GmbH 
illus. fig. 7- 



Carla. Ernst Ludwig 
-)8-ig20. Munich: 
1991. n.p., 



Introduction to the Collections, rev. ed. Raleigh: North 
Carolina Museum of Art, 1992, illus. xviii and 253. 



Lloyd 19 





20 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Two Mt Figures in u Lombrupe. A Attribution 



Mario -Andreas von Liittichau 



Two Nude Figures in a Landscape (fig. 1 ) is the title of a painting as spontaneous as it is 
expressive. W. R. Valentiner, the well-known museum director who emigrated to the United 
States from Germany, bequeathed it together with many other works of art to the three- 
year-old North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, with the understanding that it was a work 
by Otto Mueller. This bequest took place in 1 958, the year of Valentiner's death, after a 
long life dedicated to art. 

Valentiner's family challenged the bequest in court. Finally, in 1 965, 
after protracted legal proceedings, the wishes of the deceased were fulfilled, and Two Nude 
Figures in a Landscape was entered into the inventory book of the North Carolina Museum of 
Art as a work of the Brucke artist and professor of the Breslau Akademie Otto Mueller 
(1874-1930). 

To this day, no one appears to have cast serious doubt upon the 
attribution by this outstanding connoisseur of not only classic Dutch art, but also the art of 
his own time. And even when misgivings were raised, any argument against the authorship 
of Mueller dissipated in the face of the deceased's authority as an art historian, which 
extended beyond his death and the generosity of his bequest. 1 This attribution can, how- 
ever, no longer be maintained, as the painting in question, a landscape with two bathers, is 
quite clearly a work by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, painted in 1913 during his summer stay on 
the isle of Fehmarn in the Baltic Sea. 

Two naked figures, searching for a path towards the steeply sloping 
dunes between rocks worn smooth by the sea, are seen from behind and at a slight angle. 
Only conjecture allows the viewer to distinguish between the girl on the right and the boy 
on the left, who is crouching in an extreme squat, balancing himself by swinging his arms 
out. The figure on the right, tall with a slim, elongated body, has taken a firm stand, higher 
up on two stone humps. Both bodies are tanned by the sun. The entire landscape is filled 
with a glistening, sun-soaked color. 

The colors of the sand of the beach and the steeply sloping dunes 
as well as the naked bodies form a momentary unity in salmon pink, fractured by the 
broken contours circumscribing the naked bodies with their uniformly red-brown hair. The 
field of stones in the sand bank sloping gently into the sea and also the looming, sheer 



1. Just recently, on 25 September 1995, James B. Byrnes, assistant director under W. R. Valentiner and later his successor at the North Carolina Museum 
of Art, responded to a question from the Museum as to whether he still favored Otto Mueller. "I am attaching a number of photocopies of graphics [by 
Otto Mueller]. ... I feel these examples support my conviction that the Valentiner painting is unquestionably by Mueller painted circa 1919-1921." 
See correspondence in the Two Nude Figures curatorial file. 

In a 1985 conversation between NCMA Curator Mitchell Kahan and Prof. Charles Haxthausen, the latter stated, as noted for the files by Kahan, 
"that earlier on, Mueller had been very influential on Kirchner and that it was possible that at this time, the influence had reversed, with Mueller work- 
ing in a vein closer to Kirchner. [Haxthausen] felt that the painting was definitely Mueller and not Kirchner, but that it was atypical Mueller." See 2 April 
1985 memorandum in the Two Nude Figures curatorial file. 



von Liittirhflu 21 



"wall" the figures face are envisioned by the artist in 
tones of blue. In between, in protected valleys, reed- 
like, loosely fanned dune grass is growing. At the 
top of the canvas, reaching to the steeply sloping 
dunes, there is a faint impression in the clear and 
uncontoured green of a copse of hawthorne trees, 
tossed and bent by the wind, typical of rugged 
northern coastal landscapes. 

The entire work gives the 
impression of hasty painting. The movement of the 
figures freezes for the fraction of a moment. Hectic 
brush strokes clearly set next to one another sup- 
port this impression; the colors, mostly pink, red- 
brown, green, and blue, have been noticeably 
thinned by the artist, while the priming remains in 
part untouched. 2 The brush strokes follow the move- 
ment of the figures from left to right toward the 
dunes. Only a few lines both order and underline 
the contours of the barren landscape of sand, larger 
boulders, grass, and dunes. The painting is not 
signed, monogrammed, dated, or even marked. 

In order to establish the 
authorship and possible dating, it is first necessary 
to locate the place where the painting was made. 
A review of the oeuvres of those artists who make 
likely candidates — here Heckel, Kirchner, and 
Mueller spring most quickly to mind — for compara- 
ble landscape motifs certainly includes the motif chosen by the artist for this painting. It is a 
piece of the coastline of the island of Fehmarn, not very far from the Staberhuk Lighthouse 
on its southeast point (fig. 2). If this assumption is accepted, then the possible times for the 
execution of this painting are limited to only the few years when the three artists visited 
Fehmarn: Heckel in 1912; Kirchner in 1908, probably 1 91 0, and in 1 91 2, 1 91 3, and 
1914; and Mueller in 1 908 and 1 91 3. 

Having traveled up from Dresden, Kirchner stayed on Fehmarn in the 
summer of 1 908 with his girl friend of the time, Emy Frisch (who would marry Karl Schmidt- 
Rottluff ten years later), and her brother, Hans Frisch, a young poet and painter. 3 They 
lodged with Dora Hiss in the Villa Port Arthur, a house that has been slightly remodeled over 




Fig. 2 Bay on the East Coast of Fehmarn 
Photograph by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 
summer 1913 

Photograph courtesy Kirchner Museum 
Davos 



2. Examination report, NCMA Assistant Conservator Barbara Wojcik, July 1995: "The paint has a granular, slightly underbound consistency forming a 
porous matte surface. The application ranges from a thin, translucent wash to a thicker body paint often layered one overlapping the other." 

3. Schmidt-Rottluff's Portrait of Emy, painted the year after he married Emy Frisch, is the subject of the following article in this issue of the Bulletin. 
See Lucius Grisebach, "Ernst Ludwig Kirchner auf Fehmarn," in Die Maler der Brucke (Schloss Gottorf: Sammlung Hermann Gerlinger, Schleswig- 

Holsteimsches Landesmuseum, 1995), 60ff, the best description of Kirchner's stays on Fehmarn up to now. 



22 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



the years but still stands at Staakensweg 32 in Burg. 4 In June 1910, Kirchner is said to have 
again spent a few days at the Villa Port Arthur. 5 But as can be gathered from Kirchner's own 
words, he did not attach any importance to this stay on the island, and it cannot be clearly 
established which, if any, works he painted on Fehmarn that year, even with the help of the 
standard catalogue raisonne by Donald E. Gordon. 6 On the other hand, Kirchner's artistic 
production during his stay on Fehmarn in 1912, especially in 1913, and indeed in August 
1914 shortly before the outbreak of World War I, is definitely much more extensive. 

"As you well know, I was back at Fehmarn this summer after a 5 year 
break," wrote Kirchner (being somewhat vague about the number of years between visits) 
on 31 December 1912 in a letter to his collector and supporter, the district court director 
Gustav Schiefler in Hamburg. "I intend to go there again next year, the entire impression 
from the first stay has deepened, and I painted pictures there of absolute maturity, in as far 
as I can judge myself. Ochre, blue and green are the colors of Fehmarn; a wonderful coast- 
line, sometimes with the richness of the South Seas, beautiful flowers with fleshy stalks." 7 

Some years later, probably in 1 925 or 1 926, Kirchner, who was by 
then living in Frauenkirch in Switzerland, reminisced about the importance of his time on 
Fehmarn: "From 1 91 2 to 1 91 4 I spent the summer months with Erna on Fehmarn. Here I 
learned to form the final unity between man and nature and brought to an end that which I 
had begun in Moritzburg. The colors became milder and richer, the forms more severe and 
more distanced from their natural form." 8 

It was probably at the beginning of July 1912, after attending the 
Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne, that Kirchner returned to the island. This time he rented 
a room from the lighthouse keeper Ernst Friedrich Luthmann in Staberhuk, a little spot 
consisting of a few houses that still exists on the southeast coast of the island. Traveling 
with him were his new girl friend, Erna Schilling, and her older sister, Gerda, who earned her 
living as a dancer in the Berlin Varietes. 9 

Erich Heckel, who had planned the stay with Kirchner, traveled first 
to Hiddensee with Siddi Riha — at the time his girl friend and later his wife — and then 
visited his friends, as arranged, towards the end of their summer holiday on Fehmarn. 
Whether Gerda Schilling remained on the island with Kirchner and Erna until the end of 
August is not verifiable. Using the works produced and the chronology given by Gordon one 
can, however, at least guess at the who, how, and when of Kirchner's models on the stony 
beach or in the ocean under the lighthouse. Included among them were also Dora and 
Frieda, two of the eight children of the lighthouse keeper Luthmann. 10 

By themselves, the colors and motifs of Two Nude Figures in a 
Landscape do not place it squarely among the works Kirchner created in 1 91 2 on Fehmarn. 
The painting has, however, other convincing parallels with those works. There are clear and 

4. Visit by the author to the island of Fehmarn in July 1994. Kind tips and a tour through the places where Kirchner stayed by Dr. Dietrich Reinhardt, 
chair of the E. L. Kirchner Verein, Fehmarn. 

.5. See Ernst Ludwig Kirchner— Gustav Schiefler, Briefwechsel 1910 bis 1935/38, ed. Wolfgang Henze (Stuttgart/Zurich, 1990), 61, letter 33, f. 1 

6. See Donald E. Gordon, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Munich, 1968), and Annemarie and Wolf-Dieter Dube, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Das graphische Werk 
(Munich, 1967). 

7. See Kirchner— Schiefler, Briefwechsel, 61, letter 33. 

8. Quoted in Eberhard W. Kornfeld, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Nachziechnungen seines Lebens (Bern, 1979), 337; see also Grisebach, 60, f. 2. 

9. See Grisebach, 60. 

10. Valuable tip from Dr. Reinhardt, chair of the E. L. Kirchner Verein, Fehmarn. 



ran LiMichnu 23 



comparable references to the picturesque place, for example, in Small Fehmarn Coast Scene 
(Gordon 249), in which the characteristic dune landscape near the lighthouse was first cap- 
tured by Kirchner. Also comparable are, of course, the two paintings Bather between Rocks 
(Gordon 256) and the probably lost Two Bathers, Fehmarn (Gordon 266), in which Kirchner, 
as in the Raleigh painting, used a hurried method that freezes for a moment the extreme 
position of his two models romping on the beach. 

The Stuttgart Fehmarn painting, Striding into the Sea (fig. 3, Gordon 
262), perhaps the most splendid of the works Kirchner painted on Fehmarn in 1 91 2, is also 
pertinent because of where and how it was made. The landscape, the strip of sand, the 
smooth rocks in the foreground, the steeply looming dunes, and the lighthouse in the 
background seem to anticipate Two Nude Figures in a Landscape. Moreover, the manner in 
which Kirchner depicts the grass, the way he works the curves and size of the rocks out 
of the sand with hatching, and the way he captures the posture of the models striding 



Fig. 3 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
Striding into the Sea, 1912 
Oil on canvas 

57 1/2 x 78 3/4 in. (146 x 200 cm) 
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart 



24 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Fig. 4 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
Four Nudes Under Trees, 1913 
Oil on canvas 

4-7 3/8 x 35 5/8 in. (120.5 x 90.5 cm) 
Private collection 



parallel into the sea, with their arms extending slightly away from their bodies, bringing out 
their contours and flesh with parallel brush grooves: all these details are fundamental 
evidence of Kirchner's authorship. 

"The forming of naked people in nature . . . ," wrote Kirchner in his 
Davos diary in 1 926, "began in the Dresden period 1 904-5, extended through the Berlin 
period and reached its provisional end with the large Fehmarn painting 'Striding into the 
Sea' and 'Three Bathers in the Waves.'" 11 (The latter [Gordon 356] was painted in 1 91 3.) 
Only the range of colors in the painting Striding into the Sea (which, with the exception of the 
strongly violet-colored sky, largely reflect conventional notions) allows the slightest doubts 
as to Kirchner's authorship of Two Nude Figures in a Landscape. However, the further devel- 
opment of Kirchner's painting during the winter of 1912-13 towards those superb Berlin 
street paintings, the further consolidation in the use of strong colors released from a natu- 
ralistic model, and the busy, nearly staccato brush strokes during the next stay on Fehmarn 
in the summer of 1 9 1 3 dispel the last doubts about the authorship of this painting. 

Kirchner, Erna Schilling, and probably Gerda 12 returned to the famil- 
iar rooms at Liithmann's in Staberhuk at the beginning of the summer holidays in 191 3. 
This time they were accompanied by Hans Gewecke and 
Werner Gothein, the only students who were interested 
in the MUIM-Institut — Moderner Unterricht in Malerei 
(Modern Lessons in Painting) — that Kirchner and 
Pechstein had founded in the late autumn of 191 1 in 
their shared studio in Durlacherstrasse. Instead of Heckel 
and Siddi, the visitors to their summer residence this 
time were Otto Mueller and his wife, Maschka. 

Compared to Kirchner's Fehmarn 
paintings of the previous year, the coastal landscapes he 
executed in 1913 are more filled with people. 13 Clearly 
identifiable more than once is Otto Mueller, who, when 
lying in the sun, as captured in the painting Four Nudes 
underTrees (fig. 4, Gordon 355), apparently did not wish 
to do without his hat, an attribute that had almost 
become his trademark. 14 Gewecke and Gothein were 
doubtless also available as models, as were possibly the 
two daughters of the lighthouse keeper. 

Of particular relevance here are 
two of Kirchner's panoramic coastal landscapes, Fehmarn 
Coast (fig. 5, Gordon 330) and Fehmarn Coast with 




11. See Davoser Tagebuch, ed. Lothar Grisebach (Cologne: DuMont, 1968), 82. 

12. See Lucius Grisebach, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 1880- 1938 (Cologne: Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1995), 93. 

13. See Gordon, cat. nos. 345, 346, 350, 353, 355, 358, 359. 

14. On Otto Mueller as "model" in Kirchner's works done around 1911 to 1914, see Gordon, cat. nos. 197, 285, 296, 300, perhaps 301, 302, 303, 
355, perhaps 360, 388. 



von LiMiihou 25 



Lighthouse (Gordon 325, Museum Schloss Gottdorf). Noteworthy are the unusually pink to 
red-brown sand beaches and dunes, contrasting starkly with the dune grass and trees 
above the dunes conceived in dark green, the sea modulating in various blue tones, and the 
rocks lying like islands in the sand. 

Kirchner's powerful color mixture, perhaps unusual at first glance, 
can be glimpsed for the first time in Still Life with Mask (Gordon 218), painted in Berlin in 
1911. This painting Gordon himself held to be a key work, not only because of the indica- 
tion of a color mixture new for Kirchner, but also because of the first use of the facial forms, 
elongated or even distended, which were to become characteristic of him in the coming 
years. 15 The still "round" bodies of the Moritzburg bathers have been transformed, in the 
Fehmarn paintings of 1912 and especially of 1913, into tall, reedy, stiff figures. Gordon 
speaks of an extension and thinning of the human proportions of the figures, 16 although 
Grohmann had already drawn attention to their "stiff and conscious posture even 
when relaxing" and "the formation of a gracile ideal of beauty with small hips and shoul- 
ders" 17 (fig. 4). 

As a precedent for the transparent, almost gouache-like painting 
method for Two Nude Figures in a Landscape one can take among others the painting Erna 
near the Sea, Fehmarn (fig. 6, Gordon 316). Its very thinly applied paint and staccato parallel 
brush strokes are a special painting technique characteristic of a large number of works pro- 
duced on Fehmarn in 1913. 



Fig. 5 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
Fehmarn Coast, 1913 
Oil on canvas 

33 5/8 x 33 5/8 in. (85.5 x 85.5 cm) 
Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt 



15. See Gordon, 83 

16. See Gordon, 83. 

17. See Will Grohmann. £ L. Kirchner (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 1958), 60. 



26 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 




Fig. 6 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
Erna nearthe Sea, Fehmarn, 1913 
Oil on canvas 

30 3/4 x 27 in. (78.2 x 68.6 cm) 
Private collection 

Fig. 7 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
RedNudes, 1913/1925 
Oil on canvas 

47 1/4 x 35 3/8 in. (120 x 90 cm) 
Private collection 



Grisebach makes a very good comparison with a "plumage, a con- 
sequence of fanned, thick brush strokes which fill the entire canvas." 18 One can also feel a 
certain closeness of this painting to RedNudes (Gordon 347), produced at the same time, 
which Kirchner greatly reworked in 1 925, changing it into "carmin red female nude[s] with 
the slim heads in front of the pink colored dunes" in a tropical flora by using the "tone of 
green to blue-violet in the middle of the glimmering pink" 19 (fig. 7). 

It remains only to prove the distended bodies of the figures in the 
Raleigh painting as typical of Kirchner. And it is only in this context that Otto Mueller comes 
into consideration. However, a digression on the development of the two artists from 
their first meeting — on the occasion of the "Ausstellung von Werken Zuruckgewiesener 
der Berliner Secession" in the Berlin Galerie Maximilian Macht in May of 1910 — to the 
time this work was painted will make all the more clear why Two Nude Figures in a Landscape 
can only be by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. 

Mueller, born in Liebau in 1874, had already moved from the 
Silesian province to Berlin in 1 908, the same year that Max Pechstein moved there from 
Dresden. Whether Mueller and Pechstein met at the time is not known, but it certainly was 
possible, given their mutual interest in the Berlin Secession. Mueller had completed a lithog- 
raphy apprenticeship before attending the academies in 
Dresden and Munich around the turn of the century. Because 
of this training, his work up to 1 910 is associated with the 
academically led art of the end of the nineteenth century 
rather than with the much more color-intensive, carefree, 
Fauve-like painting of the Brucke artists. 

In the summer of 1 908, Mueller and 
his wife, Maschka, together with Mara and Helene, two of his 
four sisters, and several other people, among them probably 
Ivo Hauptmann, also spent a few days, like Kirchner, on 
Fehmarn. The two artists were doubtless there at different 
times and with different interests in choice of motif. While 
Kirchner's interests during his first visit were directed 
towards the interior landscape of the island, the streets of 
Burg, and individual facades, Mueller stationed his models on 
sections of the coastline similar to those that would appear in 
Kirchner's works in the years 1912 to 1914. Mara and 
Helene on the Shore of 1 908 (fig. 8), for example, belongs to 
a series of seven known paintings with similar motifs, all prob- 
ably having the same section of the coast as background. 




18. See Grisebach, 96. 

19. See Crohmann, 62, 



mimiiku 27 



A comparison with the paintings 
Kirchner executed on Fehmarn in 1908 — for example, 
Fehmarn Coast (Gordon 40) — shows only that the styles of 
the two artists were still quite divergent and that Kirchner, as 
he said himself, had painted some of the Fehmarn paintings of 
1 908 with a spatula, while Mueller preferred conventional 
painting methods, 20 producing works balanced in composition 
and subject with assured style and well-trained technique. 

In the intervening period up to 1910, 
the year in which Mueller struck up a friendship with the 
Brucke artists, his style must, however, have changed radically, 
because for them it was now self-evident that he was one of 

them; 21 and they invited him to participate in an exhibition that autumn in the Dresden 
Galerie Ernst Arnold. The works both artists produced, from 1910 to 191 3 and subse- 
quently, show at first glance points of comparison and related motifs. This is especially 
noticeable in Kirchner's Three Bathers on the Shore (fig. 9, Gordon 344) and Mueller's 
Bathers, also done in 1913 and probably also painted on Fehmarn (fig. 10). Even the com- 
mon style and motifs of artists working closely and often daily together — like Kirchner, 
Heckel, and Pechstein at the Moritzburg lakes in the summer of 1910 — leave room for 
individual characteristics. And certainly Heckel and Kirchner were much closer at the time. 
There never were such commonalities that might lead to confusion between Kirchner and 
Mueller (fig. 11). 

Nonetheless, the noticeably overt elongation of the bodies — the 
thin arms and legs, the overly distended, slim feet, the slim joints of the models — that 




Fig. 8 Otto Mueller 

German, born Silesia (now Poland), 

1874 -1930 

Mara and Helene on the Shore (Fehmarn), 
1908 

Oil on canvas 

Present whereabouts unknown 





Fig. 9 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
Three Bathers on the Shore, 1913/1920 
Oil on canvas 

27 5/8 x 31 1/2 in. (70 x 80 cm) 
Private collection 

Fig. 10 Otto Mueller 

Bathers, 1913 

Distemper on burlap 

4.2 3/4 x 57 1/2 in. (108.5 x 146 cm) 

Westfalisches Landesmuseum fur Kunst 

und Kulturgeschichte, Miinster 



20. See Kornfeld, 336. 

21. Erich Heckel to Emmy Mueller, Otto's sister. See Mario-Andreas von Ltittichau, Otto Mueller (Cologne: DuMont, 1993), 37ff. 



28 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVTI, 1997 




wnWihau 29 



started to appear in Kirchner's work from 1912 can be traced or at least related to Mueller's 
existing style. Mueller, however, unlike Kirchner, always paid attention to a well-propor- 
tioned rendition of his models, emphasizing their figures. The elongation of the very slim 
limbs corresponded to his quite sophisticated ideal of beauty, which included an under- 
standing of the contours of the bodies as an unbroken line. Mueller retained his distinctive 
aesthetic to the end of his life. 

Up to now this discussion has ignored Mueller's interest, after 1910, 
in the technique of distemper paint. The Bathers from 1 91 0, in the Museum Folkwang, is one 
of the last works he painted with an oil-based medium or turpentine. The Berlin painting, The 
Judgment of Paris, also from 1910, is one of the first that he painted in distemper, a medium 
which he adopted from this time forth, probably exclusively, for his ever-coarser support — 
canvases of burlap or sackcloth. Characteristic of Mueller's distemper technique is a thick, 
full coloration that sought at the same time a dry dullness of the paint surface. Kirchner, on 
the other hand, still preferred oil paints for his ever-larger formats. These he greatly thinned, 
allowing a commingling of the applied paints and simultaneously a greater transparency and 
luminosity through the use of a sort of quickly drying watercolor technique. 

This transparency, achieved by Kirchner in his Fehmarn paintings of 
1913, for example, is impossible to generate using distemper paint. According to the tech- 
nical examination and media analysis, Two Nude Tigures in a Landscape is composed of thin 
washes characteristic of oil paint, and the medium is an oil-wax mixture reportedly 
employed by Kirchner, not an aqueous-based medium such as the distemper typically used 
by Mueller since approximately 1 91 0. 22 For all these reasons taken together, an attribution 
of Two Nude Figures in a Landscape to Otto Mueller, assuming it was painted on Fehmarn in 
1 91 3 — and everything seems to indicate this — can no longer be supported. 

Because of the almost complete lack of dating of the works of 
Mueller, his paintings of 1913 can only be ordered by arguments of motif and style. 
As far as the time with Kirchner on Fehmarn is concerned, there is certainly a degree of 
correspondence. The elongated bodies of the models, for example, doubtless arose origi- 
nally from a detailed study by Mueller of the work of the sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck, who 
lived in Paris, and whose work Mueller saw, at least in original, for the first time in Berlin in 
1911. Motifs such as nude bathers on the beach or in the woods were de rigueur at the 
time for all artists working in natural surroundings. However, extreme, unproportioned, if 
not unfavorable postures such as that of the figure crouching on the left of the Raleigh 
painting are almost never to be found in Mueller's work, neither in his lithographs nor in his 
watercolors or paintings. 

For Kirchner, on the other hand, to capture such a contorted posture 
was a means of buttressing the spontaneity he desired. The same crouching posture is to 



22. Since the examination done by Barbara Wojcik (see n. 2), additional studies including media analysis have been carried out on Two Nude Figures 
in a Landscape. See Addendum to Wojcik Report by NCMA Associate Conservator William Brown, 7 April 1997, and Analytical Examination Report 
(WACC #97-AS-418) by James Martin, director of analytical services and research, Williamstown Art Conservation Center, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 
in the painting's curatorial file. See also the 1963 letter from Kirchner student Chris A. Laely, in the Museum of Modern Art, Department of Painting and 
Sculpture: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Collection File, in which Laely discusses Kirchner's use of an oil-wax mixture; and see the conservator's note at the 
conclusion of this article. 



30 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



be seen in a number of his works (for example, in Two Green Nudes with Red Hair 
[fig. 1 2, Gordon 92] or Bathers in Moritzburg [Gordon 93]). It appears as well in Kirchner's 
decoration of his studio walls, first in Dresden and then later in his Berlin residence. The 
photographs Kirchner made give the impression of a spontaneous, sketchy narrative 
independent of his pictorial decision to decorate the walls and fabric hangings with erotic 
fantasies (fig. 1 3). 

When Mueller, after some consideration — and doubtless at the 
instigation of Kirchner — produced a decorative frieze in 1911-12 (fig. 1 4), the well-pro- 
portioned figures, varied in their movements, display that elongated, slim, ideal figure that 
would influence Kirchner, gaining its true meaning in his works of 1912 and 1913. In 
a comparison of the two artists' studios, the differences between them become evi- 
dent: Kirchner's nervous, restless, mistrustful, ambitious nature on the one hand, and on the 
other, the patient, level-headed, composed Mueller. 

Now that the authorship, place, year, and medium of production 
have been clearly demonstrated, it only remains to try to reconstruct the 
\i.*\{*.+ri>t% circumstances of this work's persistent attribution to Mueller and to 
account for why a clarification of this problem is only now being attempted. 

On 10 January 1958, an exhibition in honor of Kirchner opened at 
the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. The catalogue, with three 
color and otherwise black-and-white reproductions, lists forty-three paint- 
ings, twenty-three watercolors and drawings, thirty-two woodcuts, a few 
lithographs and etchings, and two silver clasps — about 1 00 works, up to 
that time the most extensive individual exhibition of the most important 
Brucke artist to take place in the United States. That this exhibition took 
place in Raleigh, and not in New York or Chicago, is due to the interest of 
the director of the museum, W. R. Valentiner (1880-1958). 

Valentiner, born in Karlsruhe in 1 880, studied history and art history 
at Heidelberg under, among others, Henry Thode, by all accounts an arch 
conservative. In 1 905 Valentiner received his doctorate in Heidelberg for 
his dissertation on Rembrandt. After working as an assistant to Hofstede 
de Groot for two years in The Hague, where he was able to continue his 
study of Dutch painting, Valentiner was made assistant at the Kaiser- 
Friedrich-Museum by Privy Councillor Wilhelm von Bode, the general 
director of the Berlin museums. In 1908, on Bode's recommendation, 
Valentiner was made curator of decorative arts at the Metropolitan 
Museum of Art in New York — and thus, one can guess, became the Berlin 



van LMthau 3i 



general director's connection in the United States, which proved its worth 
the next year with an exhibition of German contemporary art in Boston, for 
which Bode acted as commissioner. 23 At the outbreak of the war in 1914, 
Valentiner was in Germany and, because he was still a German citizen, 
entered the army. 

After the war Valentiner lived at first in Berlin as a 
scholar. He became a passive member of the November Group and began 
to develop a deeper interest in the works of the German Expressionists. 
Included among Valentiner's publications was the paper "Redesigning 
Museums in the Spirit of the New Times," which brought with it further 
intensive contact with Wilhelm von Bode and which, among other things, 
reacted to the intense discussion that Bode was already leading about the 
old and redesigned buildings of the Berlin museum island. 24 Valentiner 
also published monographs on the young sculptor Georg Kolbe and 
the Brucke painter Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, the first two publications in 
Klinkhardt and Biermann's increasingly respected series Junge Kunst. 

In 1 921 Valentiner returned to the United States as 
adviser to the Detroit Institute of Arts. In 1 924 he became the Institute's 
director, a position he held for twenty years. In spite of having reached 
retirement age, in 1 946 Valentiner was named co-director-consultant at what was then the 
Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art. In 1 952, he was given the task of 
organizing J. Paul Getty's extensive and heterogeneous collection, which was located in a 
specially purchased country house in Malibu. 25 And in 1955, at the age of seventy-five, 
Valentiner moved for a last time, on being named founding director of the North Carolina 
Museum of Art in Raleigh. He died on 5 September 1958. The following year, in 
Valentiner's memory, the Raleigh museum opened "Masterpieces of Art," an exhibition that 
told of the rich life, between the old continent and the new, of this internationally active 
museum director and looked back on his important purchases, mediations, gifts, and schol- 
arly achievements. 

Two paintings by Kirchner from the Valentiner estate were included 
in this exhibition: the 1910 Panama Girls (Gordon 161) that would later become the 
property of the museum 26 and the 1 937 Landscape of Frauenkirch (Gordon 1 01 3), one of 
the artist's last paintings. One searches the catalogue in vain for Two Nude Figures 
in a Landscape. However, listed in the catalogue is Two Bathing Girls by Mueller, probably 
painted at the beginning of the 1 920s, which came to America as part of the exhibition 
"German Painting and Sculpture" organized by Alfred H. Barr at the Museum of Modern Art 
in 1931 and which was probably purchased by Valentiner at the time of the exhibition. The 




Fig. 13. Interior of Kirchner's 
Dresden studio 
Photograph by Ernst Ludwig 
Kirchner, 191O 
Photograph courtesy Kirchner 
Museum Davos 



23. "Exhibition of Contemporary German Art" ([Boston]: The Copley Society of Boston, Copley Hall, 1909); see Angelika Wesenberg, "Zur Forderung 
der deutschen Kunst. Bode als kunstkritischer Anonymus," in: Wilhelm von Bode als Zeitgenosse der Kunst zum 150. Ceburtstag, ed. Angelika 
Wesenberg (Berlin: Nationalgalerie, 1995), 83. 

24. See Stephan Waetzoldt, "Wilhelm von Bode — Bauherr?" in Wesenberg, 55ff. 

25. See Handbook of the Collections (Malibu, CA: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), 7. The present-day Getty Museum was built in Malibu in 
the 1970s. See Lebensbilder aus der Familie Valentiner zwischen 1830 und 1979, ed. Elisabeth Paatz nee Valentiner (Heidelberg, 1976), 73 ff. and 
Eberhard Roters, Calerie Ferdinand Moller: Die Ceschichte einer Galerie fur Moderne Kunst in Deutschland, 1917- 1956 (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 
1984), 56. 

26. Panama Girls is the subject of the preceding article in this issue of the Bulletin. 



32 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Modern exhibition was made possible by the important contact that Alfred Barr established, 
through Valentiner, with the Berlin dealer Ferdinand Moller, who found the majority of the 
loans or made paintings available from his own gallery, including the Mueller work. Today 
it hangs in the Berlin Brucke Museum. 

All this, however, does not explain how Two Nude Figures in a Landscape 
came to be in Valentiner's possession. This still remains a mystery. More significant or even 
disturbing is the question of how the knowledgeable museum director was able to make such 
an attribution, an attribution that was then uncritically accepted by his colleagues. 

In retrospect, the circumstances cannot be completely fathomed. 
Valentiner not only knew the work of Kirchner very well; he was also responsible, as director 
of the Detroit Institute of Arts, for the first American Kirchner exhibition. According to Will 
Grohmann, Kirchner's first biographer, Valentiner had great respect for Kirchner even 
before World War I. And in Berlin after the war he had become more familiar with Kirchner's 
works. Kirchner wrote in his Davos diary on 1 1 August 1919: "We [Kirchner and the 
German painter Karl Stirner] are writing to Valentiner and Neumann." 27 Valentiner might also 



Fig. 14 Interior of Mueller's 
Berlin studio 

Photograph by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, igil 
or 1912 

First published in Brijcke-Chronik, 1913 




27. See Davoser Tagebuch, 56. 



von IMiku 33 



have seen a rather atypical work of Kirchner's, the 191 1 Garden Restaurant in Steglitz 
(Gordon 211),in1913inNew York in the legendary Armory Show, the first important exhi- 
bition of modern art in America. Moreover, shortly before Valentiner left Berlin in 1 921 for 
the Detroit Institute of Arts, he could have seen Kirchner's one-person exhibition of about 
fifty works, which had opened in February in the Berlin Kronprinzenpalais. 

In 1 923, the first American exhibition of German Expressionist work 
after World War I took place in New York in the Anderson Gallery with the close cooperation 
of the Berlin Galerie Ferdinand Moller. The foreword to its catalogue was written by 
Valentiner. From Mueller there were, apart from five watercolors and four lithographs, five 
paintings mistakenly described as "oil." From Kirchner, on the other hand, there was not one 
work, which was doubtless due to the lack of business contacts between the Galerie Moller 
and Kirchner at the time, and to the existing range of the Berlin gallery. Valentiner therefore 
had the best of opportunities to study the works of Mueller. "The gracious, rhythmic and 
delicate forms of Mueller have a ready appeal," Valentiner wrote, and not much more, on the 
subject in his catalogue foreword. 28 

Only in 1 926, with the "Carnegie International," was a Kirchner work 
once again seen by the audience on which he placed such importance. This was followed 
by Alfred Barr's "German Painting and Sculpture" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art 
in 1 931 , and then by the Kirchner exhibition in 1 937 at the Detroit Institute of Arts. 29 

During the preparation of this exhibition, at the beginning of 
September 1936, Valentiner finally came to know Kirchner personally. Coming from Italy, 
where he had been visiting the publisher Kurt Wolff in Venice, Valentiner made use of the 
opportunity to visit Dr. Bauer — family doctor, faithful friend, and a collector of Kirchner 
works — in Davos and then Kirchner himself in Frauenkirch, in order to ask for works for the 
Detroit exhibition. Kirchner was more than pleased at this visit, recognizing in it the chance 
of finally becoming established in America. On 7 September 1936, Kirchner wrote to 
Valentiner: "Dear Doctor: I want to thank you very much again for the interest and time you 
spent in seeing my works." 30 Seven days later, after Valentiner had written and asked for fur- 
ther information on his works, Kirchner wrote again: "It was a great pleasure for me to go 
through the paintings with you. In accordance with your wish, I have quickly made a few more 
photographs, and I am going to send them to you in care of Kurt Wolff in Florence .... A thou- 
sand thanks that you will try to find friends for my pictures." 31 In November 1936 
he sent the shipment to Detroit: five paintings, sixteen watercolors, twelve woodcuts, and 
five etchings. 32 

The exhibition opened in Detroit in January 1937. Kirchner asked 
Valentiner for reviews and received photographs and newspaper clippings. The German 
dealer Curt Valentin, who had just arrived in New York, was successful in scheduling the 

28. See Catalogue for the Exhibition, A Collection of Modern German Art, intro. by W. R. Valentiner (New York: The Anderson Galleries, 1923), 7. 

29. On the exhibition of Kirchner's works in America, see Frank Whiteford, "Kirchner und das Kunsturteil." in Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, exh. cat. (Berlin: 
Nationalgalerie, 1980), 38ff. 

30. E. L. Kirchner to W. R. Valentiner, 7 September 1936, quoted in E.L. Kirchner, German Expressionist, exh. cat. (Raleigh: North Carolina Museum 
of Art, 1958), 39. 

31. Quoted by Valentiner, 40. Kurt Wolff was a publisher in Munich. Will Grohmann's book Das Werk Ernst Ludwig Kirchners was published by 
his company in 1926. 

32. See Kornfeld, 310. 



34 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



exhibition for his new gallery. It was shown in October of the same year, supplemented by 
further works from Kirchner himself, nine months before Kirchner's suicide. 33 (And in 1 939, 
the Museum of Modern Art purchased its first work by Kirchner, The Street [Gordon 364] of 
1913, which had been in the Nationalgalerie, where it was confiscated by the National 
Socialists and sold for hard currency.) 

In the letters from Kirchner to Valentiner that were published in the 
exhibition catalogue of 1958 — the American's response has not been found — two 
passages demonstrate how well-founded Valentiner's knowledge of Kirchner and his work 
had become. On 4 April 1 937, Kirchner asked Valentiner for information about the location 
of two of his paintings that had become very dear to him. In the letter, he included "two 
photographs of paintings from the Hess collection at Erfurt. The one reproduced a Fehmarn 
painting of which I am very fond, 'Bathing on the Beach'; and the second one, a street 
scene." 34 In the same letter, Kirchner announced to Valentiner, who had become his "agent" 
in the United States, that he would receive under separate cover a package of twenty-five 
drawings, "'a sketch book of E. L. Kirchner 1 901 -1 936,"' that would provide "a short view 
of the formal development of my art at this time. I ask you to accept this little book in 
appreciation and respect. You have been so infinitely kind and friendly to me and make [sic] 
me very happy to know of your interest in my work." 35 

Valentiner worked very hard to smooth Kirchner's introduction to the 
United States. He helped ease what were, at the beginning at least, tense relations with 
Alfred Barr and with the German gallery owner Curt Valentin, who had also visited Kirchner 
in Frauenkirch in 1 936 and was active in New York for the Berlin Galerie Buchholz. Kirchner 
placed great hopes on the exhibition in New York in 1936, which included not only the 
works shown in Detroit, but also seven paintings "of a smaller size," shipped by Kirchner 
directly to New York. "I hope that the subjects are interesting to the Americans. There are, 
among others, two sporting paintings in which I try to express in art the movements of the 
athletes. My thanks go to you most heartily if you can help me with this exhibition." 36 
One of the two, the 1 934 Hockey Players (Gordon 976) , was later purchased by Valentiner 
for his private collection for a price of $300. 37 Probably a large majority of the Kirchner 
works that Valentiner owned were listed in the catalogue of the Raleigh Kirchner 
exhibition of 1958: five paintings, nine watercolors and drawings from the sketchbook, 
and two woodcuts. 38 

In the catalogue of that exhibition, Valentiner wrote: "From the artifi- 
cial atmosphere of the street scenes and circus performances, we are guided into the open, 
unspoiled nature in the compositions which the artist executed on the small island of 
Fehmarn in the Baltic Sea, where he spent his summer months (1912-14). Here he 
continued his early efforts to represent nude bodies in an out-of-doors setting, and the 



33. See Kornfeld, 312. 

34. Quoted in Valentiner, 43. Alfred Hess owned, according to the valuable information of Andreas Huneke, nine paintings by Kirchner: Houses 
at Fehmarn (not in Gordon) as well as the following works listed in Gordon: 263, 319, 323, 363, 368, 360, 370, 383; the work mentioned by 
Kirchner, Bathing on the Beach, cannot be demonstrated to have been part of the Hess collection, but can perhaps be related to Nudes in the 
Forest (Gordon 263). 

35. Quoted in Valentiner, 44. 

36. See Valentiner, 44 and 45. 

37. See Kornfeld, 321. 

38. See A Collection of Modern German Art, 55ff., especially the note, "Lent by Private Collector, Raleigh. " 



von liittiCflflli 35 



different colors of light green — the color of the dunes — of blue, and a warm red show how 
relieved the artist felt after he had left the city atmosphere behind him." 39 Valentiner obvi- 
ously knew works of the Fehmarn period, not least the painting Red Nudes, which Kirchner 
had not sold in spite of numerous offers, as he himself held it to be an important work. 
Kirchner could have shown it to Valentiner during his visit there. Moreover, Valentiner 
devoted an entire chapter to his meeting with Kirchner, lasting memories which he first put 
to paper in 1 940. Valentiner described his visit to Kirchner's house, the conversations he 
had there, and the impression he gained of an artist seemingly anxious and depressed. 40 
One can read Valentiner's great consternation at Kirchner's fate; one can even feel the accu- 
sation of not himself having been more active in his support. 

In consideration of all this, it becomes more difficult to understand 
how the attribution of Two Nude Figures in a Landscape to Mueller could have originated 
with Valentiner. 

How did the painting come to be in the possession of Valentiner? 
There is the possibility that Kirchner could have presented this work to Mueller as a 
reminder of their time together on Fehmarn. If that had been the case, then Kirchner 
certainly would have signed this work as a gift to his friend. And if Mueller had then sold this 
work to Valentiner, he would never have claimed the work to be his own. Nothing is known 
about this or any other possible gestures of friendship between Kirchner and Mueller. On 
the other hand, if Mueller had painted the work under discussion, he would certainly have 
signed or at least initialed it with his well-known "OM." 

Among the many possibilities of how the "Kirchner" came, via 
Valentiner, to be in the North Carolina Museum of Art as a "Mueller," there should be 
considered the relationship between Valentiner and the Berlin Galerie Ferdinand Moller. 
After World War I, probably at the beginning of the 1 920s, Valentiner got to know the art 
dealer Ferdinand Moller, who lived in Breslau and was orienting his business toward Berlin. 
Valentiner's contacts in the United States were of great interest for Moller. The exhibition of 
German contemporary art in October 1 923 at the Anderson Gallery in New York included 
about 270 works from twenty-nine artists, part of the Galerie Ferdinand Moller's permanent 
stock. Among them were many works by the Brucke artists — with the exception of 
Kirchner — especially works by Schmidt-Rottluff, Nolde, and Mueller. Valentiner, apart from 
writing the foreword to the exhibition catalogue (entitled "A Collection of Modern Art"), 
worked on contacts with American collectors, while Moller procured the art works and 
concluded the loan and sales contracts. 41 

From these commmon interests there arose a friendship, on which, 
with the rise of National Socialism in Germany, unconventional demands were placed. In 
October 1937 and in March 1938, Ferdinand Moller shipped crates containing twenty 

39. See Valentiner, 22. 
40 See Valentiner, 31ff. 
41. See Roters, 56. 



36 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



paintings from his gallery to the Detroit Institute of Arts with the request that they be stored 
there. Included were works by Otto Dix, Lyonel Feininger, Vasily Kandinsky, Max Pechstein, 
Christian Rohlfs, and Schmidt-Rottluff, as well as two early works by Mueller, Landscape with 
Bathers from 1911 and Couple with Green Fan, probably from 1912. The Self- Portrait by 
Otto Dix was acquired by Valentiner for the museum. The rest of the paintings remained 
loans for regular use. 42 After the war — Valentiner had since left Detroit for California — 
Galerie Ferdinand Moller managed to get back all of the stored works with the exception of 
two works by Feininger 43 and Kandinsky. 

We can certainly demonstrate Valentiner's knowledge of the works 
of both Kirchner and Mueller from their different periods. Given his involvement with the 
careers of both artists, it is all the more surprising that Valentiner could make such an attri- 
bution. (This attribution may be the reason that Donald E. Gordon did not take the work into 
consideration. He may never even have seen the work during his research for the Kirchner 
catalogue raisonne, which appeared in 1 968.) 

How Valentiner came to be in possession of Two Nude Figures in a 
Landscape can no longer be reconstructed today. In the painting's file in the North Carolina 
Museum of Art is only the simple fact that the painting is from the Valentiner estate. 
Tradition has it that Valentiner acquired the work directly from the artist. 44 This assumption 
cannot be unequivocally disproved. However, there are no reports of Valentiner's ever hav- 
ing met Mueller, as he had Kirchner, and even Valentiner's and Mueller's common interest 
in the November Group in Berlin — Mueller was one of the founding members — does not 
provide any definite grounds for assuming an acquaintance. 45 That the Raleigh painting 
could have come into Valentiner's possession along this path therefore remains unverifi- 
able. It is, however, very unlikely. 

There does exist, of course, the possibility of an acquisition through 
a gallery — the Galerie Ferdinand Moller, or later the Galerie Nierendorf, which was in 
Cologne and then in Berlin and towards the end of the 1 930s in New York as well, or the 
Berlin Galerie Buchholz, represented by Curt Valentin in New York. Possible, too, is the 
Frankfurt gallery owner Ludwig Schames, who interested himself in Kirchner's works 
from 1916 on, or other such sources. Neither Valentiner's known correspondence with 
Ferdinand Moller nor with other colleagues makes any reference to such a purchase. 

However, the absence of a signature on the painting allows the 
following conjecture. Especially for Kirchner's sense of self — and this is naturally true of 
Mueller as well — it is unthinkable that a work would leave the studio unsigned, unless it 
was in the period when Kirchner was, because of illness, seldom in Berlin and Erna Schilling 
had authority to send works to exhibitions and to take care of business affairs. (If this were 
the case. Two Nude Figures in a Landscape could only have left the Berlin studio from around 



42. See Roters, 155ff. 

43. See the article on Feininger's The Green Bridge II in this issue of the Bulletin, esp. p. 68. 

44. See 5 July 1995 letter summarizing the museum tradition from NCMA Associate Curator Huston Paschal to the author in the Two Nude Figures 
curatorial file. 

45. Roters, 56; Mueller signed the founding paper of the November Group. In the publication Die Novembergruppe by Helga Kliemann (Berlin: Gebr. 
Mann-Verlag, 1969) Valentiner is not even mentioned as a passive member. See also Paatz. 



VOtlLMlMli 37 



1916 until it was closed in 1 921 .) The lack of overpainting on Two Nude Figures in a 
Landscape strengthens this argument, for Kirchner had begun to restore or overpaint the 
large majority of works (such as Red Nudes or Three Bathers on the Shore [figs. 7 and 9]) that 
he had taken with him to Davos because of damage in shipping.* 6 The fact that the prove- 
nance of Two Nude Figures in a Landscape cannot be ascertained does not raise any doubts, 
however, about Kirchner's authorship of this spontaneous Fehmarn work of 1 91 3. For Two 
Nude Figures in a Landscape is consonant with Kirchner's numerous Fehmarn works, full 
of picturesque and exotic bathing scenes on the Baltic Sea beach below the lighthouse 
of Staberhuk. 



Mario-Andreas von Luttichau is chief curator at the Museum Folkwang Essen, Germany, 
for nineteenth- and twentieth-century painting and sculpture. The author of several 
publications on twentieth-century art, he is preparing a catalogue raisonne of paintings 
and drawings by Otto Mueller. 

Thanks: My dearest gratitude belongs to my colleague Huston Paschal at the North 
Carolina Museum of Art for answering many irksome questions; many thanks as well to 
Dr. Anna Jolly for her great assistance in combing the archive at the Detroit Institute of 
Arts for documents. Finally, I would like to thank David Higgins for his translation and all 
friends and colleagues for their spontaneous opinions about this painting, which under- 
lined my attribution of the work to E. L. Kirchner. 



46. Valuable tip from Dr. Wolfgang Henze, Wichtrach/Bern; See also Hans Bollinger, "Lebensdaten," in £ L. Kirchner, Zeichnungen, Roman Norbert 
Ketterer and Wolfgang Henze, eds. (Stuttgart and Zurich: Belser Verlag, 1979), 241. 

Regarding the technical examination and media analysis referred to in note 22: 

Even though the media analysis of Two Nude Figures in a Landscape identified oil and wax, this information alone should not be used to attribute the 
painting to Kirchner. We do not know enough about Mueller's materials and techniques, nor do we really know what was on the artist's palette or the 
extent of cross-influence between the two artists. A comparative study (see Brown addendum and WACC #97-AS-418 cited in note 22) between Two 
Nude Figures in a Landscape and a signed Kirchner oil painting in the NCMA collection, Young Shepherd with Flower, dated 1918 (and reproduced on 
page 93) found many similarities in technique and media, notably the oil-and-wax medium, but there were also significant differences. 

William Brown 
Associate Conservator 



38 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



PROVENANCE 

W. R. Valentiner; to Valentiner Estate. 1958 ; to 
NCMA, 1965. 



Two Nude Figures in a Landscape 
(fig. i), detail 



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Bier, Justus. "Biennial Report of the Director, July I, 
1963 -June 30. 1965." North Carolina Museum of Art 
Bulletin 6 and 7 (1966): 79 (as by Otto Mueller). 



Bowron, Edgar Peters, ed. Introduction to 
the Collections. Raleigh: North Carolina 
Museum of Art, 1983, illus. 262 (as by 
Otto Mueller and as Two Nude Figures) . 

Introduction to the Collections, rev. ed. Ral- 
eigh: North Carolina Museum of Art, 
1992, illus. 257 (as by Otto Mueller). 

L. E. [Lisa Eveleigh] . "Private Collectors 
Share Their Art." North Carolina 
Museum of Art Preview (Autumn igg2): 
12, illus. (as by Otto Mueller). 




ran liittkhau 39 



Fig. I Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 
German, 1884-1976 
Portrait of Emy , 1919 
Oil on canvas 

28 5/16 x 25 3/4 inches (71. 9 x 65.4 cm) 
North Carolina Museum of Art 
Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65.IO.58 



40 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1 997 




Fig. 2 Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 
Self- Portrait with Hat. 1919 
Oil on canvas 

28 7/8 x 25 5/8 in. (73.3 x 65 cm) 
© The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1996 
Bequest of William R. Valentiner 
1965.4.40 



BfflSDtl 41 



Karl 5cftMidt-Rottliiff 5 Portrait of Emy: A MomvitoflwMitm 

Timothy O. Benson 



In one of the first published descriptions of Karl Schmidt-Rottluff's Portrait of Emy 
(Emybildnis, fig. 1 ) , W. R. Valentiner described the shifting of moods across the sitter's face 
as if it were a landscape: 

The eye of the girl with the propped up hand in the picture shines like the 
full daylight sun. But it is not the sun of naive cheerfulness that rose in this 
face, but rather that which radiates from the clouds after a thunderstorm 
still half overcast, half with stark clarity. Dark seriousness imbues one part 
of the face, the small stroke of the mouth, the shadows of the cheeks, an 
almost closed eye; but the rays of a strenuously fought spiritual self- 
enlightenment break out victoriously from the clear blue pupil of the 
other eye, surrounded by a dazzling nimbus. And the colors — the yellow 
and orange of the face, the blue-green and brown of the dress — express 
the struggle between vision and reality, between the here and now and the 
beyond; but it is as if the red flames surrounding the form promise the 
victory of the spiritual.' 

Valentiner penned this description for the first monograph on the 
artist, which was published scarcely a year after Portrait of Emy was painted. He had just 
recently met Schmidt-Rottluff, possibly during the interval of social turmoil that ensued as 
World War I drew to a close, when they were both members of the Berlin Working Council 
for Art (Arbeitsrat fur Kunst). This group of vanguard artists, architects, and writers sought 
to align their creative activities with the aspirations of social reform of the more politically 
radical soldiers' and sailors' Soviets that had sprung up in Germany when its government 
dissolved in October 1918. 

Valentiner's erudite interpretation of the portrait goes beyond 
capturing the complex mood of calm and disquiet of the sitter to discover in it the artist's 
psyche during the following summer when he was struggling to regain his equilibrium as an 
artist. By then the political disruption and cultural devastation of the war and subsequent 
revolution were giving way to the relative stability of the Weimar Republic, and Schmidt- 

1. Wilhelm Valentiner, Schmidt-Rottluff, Junge Kunst series no. 16 (Leipzig: Klinkhardt und Biermann, 1920). Valentiner's text was also printed in "Karl 
Schmidt-Rottluff," Der Cicerone 12, no. 12 (June 1920): 455-476. 



42 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Rottluff had found his way once again to the remote Baltic village of Hohwacht, where he had 
made so much progress before the war. 2 Now he regained his artistic course with such paint- 
ings as Portrait of Entry and its pendant, Self- Portrait with Hat (Selbstbildnis mit Hut, fig. 2). 

Soon thereafter the two paintings were acquired by Valentiner and 
thus became consequential for the introduction of Expressionism in America. Ironically, their 
interpretation in Germany would first epitomize Expressionism and subsequently represent 
the fate of vanguard culture under the totalitarian conditions of the anti-modernist Nazi 
state, as will be seen below. 

Schmidt-Rottluff felt uneasy as he returned to painting in 1919. This 
was conveyed in a despondent postcard he sent from Hohwacht to his first and perhaps 
most important champion, the art historian and collector Rosa Schapire (1874-1954). In 
the postcard he expressed such dissatisfaction with his progress that he feared that the 
summer's work might be for naught. 3 In a letter to another important supporter, the art his- 
torian Wilhelm Niemeyer (1874-1960), he wrote that he was in a melancholy mood, still 
burdened by his war experiences and only able to "win back" some of his "faith in color." 4 

That this small claim of victory was an understatement is clearly born 
out in Portrait of Emy. Color — in both its discovery and suppression — had already played 
an essential role in Schmidt-Rottluff's career. He first embraced color just before he 
cofounded the Dresden Brucke group in June 1905 with Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Erich 
Heckel, his fellow architectural students at the technical college in Dresden. 5 He began with 
the Neo-lmpressionist divisionism of Seurat, as seen in an early colored-pencil drawing 
signed "Karl Schmidt." 6 (Rottluff, the name of the town near Chemnitz where he was born in 
1 884, was added to his signature after the founding of the Brucke group.) 

After the Brucke members had seen an influential Vincent van Gogh 
exhibition at the Galerie Arnold in Dresden in November 1 905, Schmidt-Rottluff departed 
from local color (as had Van Gogh) to incorporate the raw emotional power of arbitrary 
color into the open facture of the brushwork of his oil paintings, an approach that became 
even more assured during the following summer, which he spent with Emil Nolde on the 
Baltic island of Alsen. 7 

By 1910-1 1 he had evolved the broad planes of bright hues that 
marked his radical departure into Expressionism in landscapes and in such portraits as 
Portrait of Rosa Schapire (Bildnis Rosa Schapire, 1911, Brucke Museum). 8 His use of highly 
charged color lingered until 1915, when his interest in volumetric forms, Cubist fracturing, 
and "primitivizing" references to West African masks culminated in a series of melancholy 
portraits of stylish women. His colors became subdued in the reserved Cubist palette 
of darker browns, reds, and greens (shared to some extent by Heckel) of Woman with Purse 



2. Leopold Reidemeister, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: Ausstellung zum 100. Geburtstag des Kunstlers (Berlin: Brucke Museum, 1984), 28. With the outbreak 
of the war and the coincidental death of his father, Schmidt-Rottluff had returned to Rottluff, his hometown. Gerhard Wietek, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 
in Hamburg und Schleswig-Holstein (Neumunster: Wachholtz, 1984), 36. 

3. Postcard from Schmidt-Rottluff to Rosa Schapire dated 22 July 1919, in Gerd Presler, "Brucke" an Dr. Rosa Schapire (Mannheim: Stadtische 
Kunsthalle, 1990), 69. Schmidt-Rottluff had met Schapire in May 1907. 

4. Schmidt-Rottluff to Wilhelm Niemeyer, 28 August 1919, in Wietek, Schmidt-Rottluff in Hamburg, 62. Peter Selz also sees Portrait of Emy as a 
testament to the war, "fraught with tragedy, due to the pensive pose, and primarily the frightening round left eye which seems to float disembodied in 
front of the model's face." Peter Selz, "Art in a Turbulent Era: German and Austrian Painting Re- Viewed" in German and Austrian Expressionism: Art 
in a Turbulent Era, exh. cat. (Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1978), 19. 

5. Armin Zwelte, "Schmidt-Rottluff vor Schmidt-Rottluff: Einige Anmerkungen zur Genese seines Friihwerkes" in Gunther Thiem and Armin Zweite, 
eds., Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: Retrospektive, exh. cat. (Bremen: Kunsthalle, 1989, published by Prestel-Verlag, Munich, 1989), 16. 

6. The drawing, entitled Country Road in the Springtime (Landstrasse im Fruhling, private collection), is reproduced in Thiem and Zweite, no. 13, plate 1. 
7 For further discussion of Van Gogh's influence on the Brucke group, see Magdalena M. Moeller, "Van Gogh and Germany" in Vincent van Gogh and 
the Modern Movement: 1890-1914, exh. cat. (Amsterdam: Museum Folkwang, Essen and Van Gogh Museum, published by Luca Verlag Freren 
1990), 312-408. 

8. Magdalena M. Moeller and Hans-Werner Schmidt, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff: Der Maler, exh. cat. (Dusseldorf: Stadtische Kunsthalle, published by Hatje, 



Benson 43 



(Frau mit Tasche, 1915, Tate Gallery) and Woman Putting on Glove (Handschuhanziehende, 
1 91 5, private collection). At this point, the war interrupted Schmidt-Rottluff's progress. 

When he resumed his painting in 1919, the subdued palette of 
1915 persisted in such oils as June Evening, Hohwacht (Juniabend Hohwacht, fig. 3). He 
also continued to explore volumetric forms and "primitive," mask-like heads in his drawings, 
as is seen also in the rapid sketches of his postcards to Schapire. 9 This direction is extended 
in the head portrayed on the verso of Portrait of Emy , a composition the dissatisfied 
Schmidt-Rottluff later tentatively began to paint out in the rusty brown color he apparently 
applied to recycle his canvases (fig. 4). 10 Still visible are shades of blue similar to other 
works of 1 91 9 such as Girl Combing Her Hair (Kammendes Madchen), 11 while the face and 
outlined lips resemble the faces in Women Outdoors (Frauen im Griinen, private collection, 
Dusseldorf). 12 Perhaps his dissatisfaction resulted from difficulties in organizing the tightly 
compressed space, as he had departed from the solutions offered by the angular style of 
such prewar paintings as Flowers in Vase (Dahlias) (Blumen in Vase [Georginen], 1914, 
Kunsthalle, Bielefeld ), where the perspective is also extremely steep. 13 

His solution in Portrait of Emy was atypical. He eliminated the back- 
ground altogether and presented the figure tightly bound by the rectilinear format so that 
she seems to burst forward from the picture frame. Whereas the backgrounds in Schmidt- 
Rottluff's 1915 paintings had contained objects and spatial references, Emy's background 
has now become an ambiguous color field that begins to merge with the image itself. The 
mask-like countenance of Emy may continue his interest in "primitive" sources; but the 
image is entirely transformed (and, in terms of volume, defeated) by this return to color. 



Fig. 3 Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 
June Evening, Hohwacht, 1919 
Oil on canvas 

34 1/8 x 39 3/8 in. (86.5 x IOO cm) 
Kunstmuseum Dusseldorf im Ehrenho 

Fig. 4 Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 
Verso. Portrait of Emy (fig. 1) 
Photographed under infrared light 



Stuttgart, 1992), no. 19, p. 63; cf. no. 17, p. 59. 

9. See Presler, 48, 49, and 73 

10. The verso of his Still Life (Stilleben, reproduced on p. 95) in the North Carolina Museum of Art collection (65.10.59) is covered with a similar 
brown pigment. Beneath it is a landscape with villa visible with infrared photography. I am grateful to Barbara Wojcik of the Museum's conservation 
department for showing me both Schmidt-Rottluff paintings under infrared conditions. 

1 1 . Reproduced in Moeller and Schmidt, 111. 

12. Reproduced in Thiem and Zweite, no. 202, plate 70. 

13. Reproduced in Thiem and Zweite, no. 105, plate 40. 



44 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



After an intense immersion in wood carving during the war years, 
when conditions prevented him from painting, Schmidt-Rottluff now attempted to transcribe 
natural appearances in the autonomous formal language of painting. The results impressed 
Ernst Gosebruch (1 872- 1 953), the director of the Essen Kunstsammlung, who remarked 
the following year about the works produced during the summer of 1 9 1 9: "with unshakable 
belief we see the high fulfillment, the festive crowning of the work of our friend." 14 

The ostensible subject of Portrait of Emy is the artist's wife, the 
Chemnitz-born photographer Emy Frisch (1884-1975). Highly compatible with this 
socially withdrawn painter, she was described by art dealer Giinther Franke as one who 
seemed to participate in conversations in silence. 15 She had become acquainted with the 
Brucke artists through her brother Hans, a poet and writer who had known Kirchner when 
they were both youths in Chemnitz. When Hans became one of the Brucke group's earliest 
"passive members," Emy also developed close ties with the artists and had a brief roman- 
tic liaison with Kirchner beginning in 1 907 and ending during the summer of 1 908, when 
she accompanied him on his first trip to Fehmarn. Kirchner produced portraits of both Hans 
and Emy — the former in a woodcut and an oil painting, the latter in several etchings, a 
lithograph, several paintings, and various gouaches and drawings. 16 

Emy remained within the inner circle of the Briicke's communal life 
style (an intense blending of art and life) as the group gradually began to move from 
Dresden to Berlin when Max Pechstein relocated his studio there in 1 908. 17 At this point 



Fig. 5 Karl Schmidt-Rottluff with Emy 
Frisch, Rosa Schapire. and Schmidt- 
Rottluff s sister Gertrud in Hohwacht, 
Holstein, summer 1919 




14. Ernst Gosebruch, "Schmidt-Rottluff" in Genius (1920): 12, cited in Thiem and Zweite, no. 201, p. 258. 

15. See Thiem and Zweite, 107, n 47, and Doris Schmidt, ed., Briefe an Giinther Franke: Portrat eines deutschen Kunsthandlers (Cologne: DuMont, 
1970), 202. 

16. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: 1880-1938, exh. cat. (Berlin: Nationalgalerie, 1980), no 9, p. 111. See also the ink and crayon postcard drawing of Emy 
and Hans Frisch in Annemarie Dube-Heynig, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Postkarten und Briefe an Erich Heckel im Altonaer Museum in Hamburg (Cologne: 
DuMont, 1984), 33. 

The woodcut is Dube H121; the oil painting Cordon 33; the etchings Dube R20 and R24; the lithograph Dube L65; and the paintings Gordon 34, 
35, and 39; cf. the etching Dube R40. The catalogue raisonne references are to Annemarie and Wolf-Dieter Dube, E. L Kirchner: Das graphische Werk, 
2 vols., 2nd ed. (Munich: Prestel, 1980) and Donald E. Gordon, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Munich: Prestel, 1968). 

17. See, for example, the postcard of 28 November 1909 to Heckel from Pechstein's Berlin studio signed by Pechstein, Kirchner, Schmidt-Rottluff, Emy 
and Hans Frisch, Lotte Kaprolat (the future Mrs, Pechstein), and a Lotte Frdl. (who has not been identified in Brucke scholarship) as well as Kirchner's 
letter of December 1909, where he refers to the "family" in Berlin. In Dube-Heynig, 50, 62-69, 226-232. 



Benson 45 




Schmidt-Rottl uff and Emy had established 
only a cordial relationship, using the formal 
rather than familiar form of address in their 
correspondence. 18 While he made a letter- 
head design for her photography studio in 
1914 and designed her visiting card, 19 
only in 1915 did Schmidt-Rottluff make his 
first portrait of her. 20 They were married in 
March 1918 when the artist returned from 
military service. 21 

During the summer of 
1919, Emy and Schmidt-Rottluff's sister 
Gertrud joined the painter in Hohwacht, 
where he had journeyed in late spring (fig. 5). 
Both Emy and Gertrud appear as figures med- 
itating or strolling along the sandy Baltic 
shores in pictures dating from this time, most 
notably June Evening, Hohwacht (fig. 3). Will 

Grohmann later wrote of such "romantic" landscapes that, in contrast with the paintings on 
the same subject of 1914, there is "between man and nature no opposition, and the 
breadth of the landscape, which includes the heavens, allows creation to breath." 22 

In 1919 Schmidt-Rottluff also portrayed Emy and himself in two ver- 
sions of the painting You and I (Du und Ich) and in Double -Portrait (Doppelbildnis). 23 Her 
features appear also in the 1920 paintings Girl (Madchen, Stadtische Kunstsammlungen, 
Chemnitz) and Heath and Moon (Heide und Mond, Sprengel Museum, Hanover). 24 In these 
later pictures Schmidt-Rottluff pursues the abbreviation of description already seen in 
Portrait of Emy and allows his forms to transcribe visible reality as a pictorial "equivalent," 
much along the lines Carl Einstein described with relation to non-Western art in his 1915 
book Negerplastik — its illustrations a possible source for Schmidt-Rottluff's wartime wood 
carvings based on African prototypes. 25 

Nature increasingly reduced to signs — arbitrary and autonomous 
forms that are used to construct the picture tectonically rather than in imitation of natural 
appearances — had been an important discovery in both Schmidt-Rottluff's paintings and 
his graphics (especially in his woodcuts) as early as 1914. In Bay in Moonlight (Bucht im 
Mondschein, fig. 6) nearly interchangeable striated forms become "equivalents" for rocks, 
foliage, and dunes. While less abstract, the series of paintings of nudes amid dunes or 
foliage of 1913 presented figures and environment in an arabesque of color and line, as 



Fig. 6 Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 
Bay in Moonlight. 1914 
Woodcut 

15 1/2 x 19 1/2 in. (39.4 x 49.5 cm) 
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 
The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for 
German Expressionist Studies 



18. Gerhard Wietek, Schmidt-Rottluff: Oldenburger Jahre, 1907-1912 (Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 1995), 384 and 411. 

19. Rosa Schapire, Karl Schmidt-Rottluffs graphisches Werk bis 1923, 2nd ed. (Berlin: Euphorion, 1924), Gebrauchsblatter nos. 35 and 38. 

20. Portrait of E. F. (Bildnis E. F, location unknown), Will Grohmann, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1956), 289, reproduced on 261. 

21. Information on Emy Frisch is scarce. The most authoritative source is Wietek, Oldenburger Jahre, see 196, doc. 134, n. 7. The birth date for Emy 
Frisch more commonly given in the literature is 1883. Cf. Grohmann, 85, 94, and 309. 

22. Grohmann, 98. 

23. You and I (private collection) is reproduced in Thiem and Zweite, no. 211 , plate 73. The other version is in the Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst in 
Munich. Double- Portrait, formerly in the collection of Markus Kruss, is reproduced in Grohmann, 263. 

24. Girl is reproduced in Moeller and Schmidt, 117; Heath and Moon is reproduced in Thiem and Zweite, no. 217, plate 72. Emy was also the subject 
of a 1919 woodcut, Portrait of Emy (Emybildnis, Schapire 252) and an etching (Schapire 48). See Verzeichnis der Graphik von Karl Schmidt Rottluff, 
exh. cat. (Berlin: Galerie Ferdinand Mbller, 1922), nos. Gr. 599/1923 and Gr. 1818/213. Schapire 252 (woodcut version) is illustrated in Gerhard 
Wietek, Schmidt-Rottluff Graphik (Munich: Karl Thiemig, 1971), no. 113, p. 159. 

25. On art as an "equivalent" see Carl Einstein, Negerplastik (Leipzig: Verlag der Weissen Bticher, 1915), p. xx. On Schmidt-Rottluff's use of the illus- 
trations in this book as source material see Donald Gordon, "German Expressionism" in William Rubin, ed., "Primitivism" in 20th Century Art, exh. 
cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1984), 393. As Shulamith Behr points out, Rosa Schapire probably introduced Schmidt-Rottluff to 
Negerplastik, having written a review of it in 1915. See Shulamith Behr, "Anatomy of the Woman as Collector and Dealer in the Weimar Period: Rosa 



46 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Fig. 7 Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 
Imperial Coat of Arms. 1919 
Woodcut 

19 1/2 x 15 1/2 in. (49.7 x 39.4 cm) 
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 
The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for 
German Expressionist Studies 



may be exemplified in Three Nudes (Drei Akte, National 
Gallery, Berlin).^ By 1919 Schmidt-Rottluff had incor- 
porated gestural variations of arbitrary lines and color 
patches into his paintings. 

At about the time Portrait ofEmy 
and its companion piece, Self-Portrait with Hat, were 
painted, Schmidt-Rottluff was experiencing success 
not only artistically, but economically as well. The 
Expressionists were being swept up in a postwar boom 
in the art market, while their reputations were being 
codified within the developing canon of modern German 
art. Their public careers had been sustained during the 
war only with considerable difficulty by stalwart sup- 
porters such as Schapire (whose own collection made 
possible an unprecedented Schmidt-Rottluff graphic 
show sponsored by her Frauenbundes [Women's 
Association] in the Hamburg Kunsthalle in 1 91 8) 27 and 
the enterprising Munich bookseller and art dealer Hans 

Goltz (1873-1927), who featured Schmidt-Rottluff in a show in July 191 7 with a cata- 
logue by Schapire. 28 

After the war and the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II (and with this 
the end of his patronage of cultural officialdom and academicism) the new parliamentary 
government began to accommodate Expressionist art just as it was becoming highly salable 
to a more liberal bourgeois class. Indeed some of the new patrons, such as the wealthy 
shoe manufacturer Alfred Hess (1 879-1 931 ) in Erfurt, had themselves been changed by 
war experiences similar to those that had been so devastating to Max Beckmann, Kirchner, 
and many other Expressionists. Hess avidly collected Expressionism, while representing 
the German Democratic Party in the city parliament and financing construction of low-cost 
housing. 2 " As early as 1918, he began to support the acquisition of Expressionist works 
(including those of Schmidt-Rottluff) by Erfurt's Anger Museum under the direction of his 
principal artistic adviser, Edwin Redslob. Walter Kaesbach continued this program when 
Redslob departed in 1919 to take the position of Federal Arts Commissioner 
(Reichskunstwart) — a post that allowed him to commission Schmidt-Rottluff to design a 
woodcut of the German eagle coat of arms (fig. 7) , 30 

It was during this boom in collecting and scholarship that Valentiner 
began to make his contribution to the understanding and dissemination of Expressionism. 
His broad knowledge of art history had had its beginnings in Berlin years earlier when he 



Schapire and Johanna Ey" in Marsha Meskimmon and Shearer West, eds., Visions of the "Neue Frau": Women and the Visual Arts in Weimar 
Germany (Hants: Scolar Press, 1995), 96-107, Schapire's "Carl Einstein: Negerplastik," appeared in Zeitschrift fur Bucherireunde, n.s., vol, 7, no. 5/6, 
Supplement, Col, 243, reprinted in Carl Einstein, Matenalien 1, "Zwischen Bebuquin und Negerplastik," ed. by Rolf-Peter Baacke (Berlin: Silver and 
Goldstein, 1990), 104, Schmidt-Rottluff's first explorations of African sources occurred around 1913, when his interest in Cubism may have drawn him 
to the Neue Galerie in Berlin for an exhibition of Picasso's work that included African sculpture. See Cunther Thiem, "Das Archaische als Stilprinzip in 
Karl Schmidt-Rottluffs Schaffen von 1911 bis 1918," Pantheon 53 (1995): 133. 
26 Reproduced in Thiem and Zweite, no, 128 and plate 56. 

27. In June 1916 Schapire founded the Frauenbund zur Forderung deutscher bildenden Kunst (Women's Association for the Support of German Visual 
Art) in Hamburg, Among other projects, the group acquired Expressionist paintings for various museums. See Maike Bruhns, "Rosa Schapire und der 
Frauenbund zur Forderung deutscher bildenden Kunst" in Henrike Junge, ed„ Avantgarde und Publikum: Zur Rezeption avantgardistischer Kunst in 
Deutschland, 1905-1933 (Cologne: Bohlau, 1992), 273-274, and Behr, "Anatomy" in Meskimmon and West, 98-99. 

28. On Goltz's career see Katrin Lochmaier, "Die Galerie 'Neue Kunst— Hans Goltz' in Munchen" in Junge, 103-1 10, 

29. Mechthild Lucke, "Der Erfurter Sammler und Mazen Alfred Hess" in Junge, 149, 

30. Discussed in Kunst und Kunstler 19, no, 2 (November 1920): 75; Vorwarts 36, no. 506 (3 October 1919); and Sozialistische Monatshefte 54, 

no. 26 (26 January 1920). Valentiner had also been among those under consideration for the post. See Joan Weinstein, The End of Expressionism: Art 
and the November Revolution in Germany, 1918-1919 (University of Chicago Press, 1990), 86. 



Ber™ 47 



was an assistant to Wilhelm von Bode (1 845-1 929), director of Berlin's Kaiser-Friedrich- 
Museum. 31 Although he had been absent from Berlin while serving as curator of decorative 
arts at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1 908 to 1 91 4, as one of two curators 
then at the museum he was widely responsible for its growing collections (while also 
advising such private collectors as J. P. Morgan) and made annual summer study and 
purchasing trips to Europe. In 1914 Valentiner had been caught unexpectedly in Germany 
by the outbreak of World War I and chose to enlist in the German army. After brief service 
in the field (by coincidence, Franz Marc was his instructing officer and the impetus for his 
contacts with Bernhard Kohler's collection of contemporary art in Berlin), 32 Valentiner's 
social connections and language skills secured him a position in the War Information Center 
in Berlin. The guests he invited to weekly luncheons at his flat during this time testify to the 
extremely wide range of his social contacts: Professor Otto Hoetzsch (a conservative 
nationalist), Andreas Hermes (minister of finance in 1 923), Marie Sarre (wife of Islamicist 
Friedrich Sarre, Valentiner's one-time superior at the Berlin museum), Princess Mechthild 
Lichnowsky (an early collector of Marc and Kokoschka) , and the cultivated industrialist (and 
eventual founder of the Democratic Party and secretary of state) Walther Rathenau. 33 

At the war's end Valentiner, as a member of the Business Committee 
(Geschaftsausschuss) of the Working Council for Art (Arbeitsrat fur Kunst), came to know 
Expressionist artists, architects, and writers. Among the committee's other members were 
artists Heckel, Pechstein, and Schmidt-Rottluff, as well as architects Walter Gropius and 
Bruno Taut. 34 Valentiner actively campaigned for signatures for the group's manifesto, suc- 
ceeding, for example, with his curatorial colleague Carl Georg Heise (1890-1979) but 
failing with the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), who hesitated to sign anything he 
had not himself written. 35 

Valentiner's views on the role of the artist and the museum played a 
significant role in the group's deliberations about a reformed social order oriented around 
a new "great architecture" of spiritually inspiring communal buildings. With art patron Karl 
Ernst Osthaus (1874-1 921), architectural critic Paul Zucker (1889-1971), and others, 
he published various proposals (under the Working Council's auspices) for a "new type 
of museum" that would display the works of living artists in a rural setting (with resort 
facilities) intended for the edification of the working classes. 36 These proposals caused 
considerable public controversy when they were sent by the Working Council to the 
Prussian Ministry for Science, Art, and Education of the provisional government. 37 

By contrast, Schmidt-Rottluff was a reluctant participant in the 
Working Council, requiring constant urging on the part of Gropius. 38 Schmidt-Rottluff's 
description of an ideal architectural project in a questionnaire the group circulated and pub- 
lished with members' responses reads more like a description of a painting. 39 And while he 



Fig. 8 Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 
Untitled drawing for Bruno Taut' 
visionary "House of Heaven." 191 
Dimensions unknown 
Osthaus Archiv. Hagen 



31. Margaret Sterne, The Passionate Eye: The Life of William R. Valentiner (Detroit: Wayne State, 1980). 70-78. 

32. See Eduard Plietzsch, "In Memoriam Wilhelm Ft. Valentiner" in North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin 3 (1959), 49, and Valentiner's own recollec- 
tions in Klaus Lankheit, Franz Marc im Urteil seiner Zeit (Cologne: DuMont, 1960), 61 -66. 

33. Sterne, 117. Rathenau's father, Emil, founded AEG. See Stefan Pucks, "Walther Rathenau als Kunstsammler" in Junge, 253-259. 

34. For the structure of the Arbeitsrat, see the 1919 pamphlet that was sent to artists, government officials, and newspapers reproduced in facsimile 
photographs in Eberhard Steneberg, Arbeitsrat fur Kunst: Berlin 1918-1921 (Dusseldorf: Edition Marzona, 1987), 2-9. 

35. Steneberg, 54 and 99. Heise was then assistant to Gustav Pauli in the Hamburg Kunsthalle. In 1920 he was appointed director of the Museum fur 
Kunst und Kulturgeschichte in Lubeck. 

36. Wilhelm Valentiner, Umgestaltung der Museen im Sinne der neuen Zeit, with supplements by K. E. Osthaus, P. Zucker, O. Crauthoff, and P. F. 
Schmidt, no. 8 in the series Schriften zur Zeit (Berlin: Crotesche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1919). 

37. See Weinstein, 38-42. 

38. See the correspondence between Gropius and Schmidt-Rottluff in Thiem and Zweite, 90. 

39. Reprinted in Thiem and Zweite, 89-90. For a partial translation see Timothy O. Benson, et. al., Expressionist Utopias: Paradise, Metropolis, 
Architectural Fantasy, exh. cat. (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, published in collaboration with University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1993), 
274-275. 



48 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



contributed a design for a spire suitable for Taut's visionary "House of Heaven" 
(Himmelshaus, fig. 8) that would unify the people, his statement shows little but skepticism 
towards the state: 

The artist should also be free in a socialist state, true to his goals which 
are always directed towards humanity, never the state .... As a logical 
consequence, the state should stay out of art.* 

The tenor of this commentary was consistent with Schmidt-Rottluff's 
sparse statements about his art. In a collection of artists' statements in Kunst und Kunstler 
(1914) grouped under the rubric "The New Program" he had insisted, "I don't have any 
program, only an inexplicable yearning to lay hold of what I see and feel and then to find 
the most direct expression possible for such experience. "* ] He could not fathom the 
concept of an artistic program because for him art always retained its primordial meaning 
and essence; only its forms were new. This essential meaning could be captured neither by 
concepts nor words. In Hamburg in 1918, on the occasion of the first exhibition of his 
graphic art and publication of his portfolio Nine Woodcuts, he had deliberately distanced his 
concept of art from any political relationship: 

The goal of all art is directed toward mankind — never toward 
an incidental and temporal conglomeration called the state. The 
monarchical-capitalistic state was thus just as antagonistically inclined 
to all art as it will be for the bolshevist-socialist state. . . . For art 
nothing has changed at all. 42 

Valentiner was more accommodating of the state but equally out- 
spoken on the economic order, insisting that "the task of the artist is to create a new belief 
within the socialized state. . . . From the new attitude the artist will become the bearer of 
the sense of community .... his works should not fall into the hands of the capitalists who 
have no sense for art." 43 

By the summer of 1920, when social and political calm had 
returned, Valentiner — as both collector and scholar — began to establish Schmidt-Rottluff 
within an art-historical context. Portrait of Emj played a role in these early efforts, 
appearing both in Valentiner's small monograph on Schmidt-Rottluff and in a reprinted 
version that appeared as an article in Der Cicerone.** This essay, along with Ernst 
Gosebruch's 1920 essay in Genius, Schapire's 1923 catalogue raisonne of Schmidt- 
Rottluff's graphics, and other articles by Niemeyer, Behne, von Sydow, and Ludwig Coellen, 
would form the foundation of the artist's reputation. 45 



40. Ida Katherine Rigby, An alle Kunstler! War —Revolution — Weimar: German Prints, Drawings, Posters, and Periodicals from the Robert Core 
Rifkind Foundation, exh. cat. (San Diego: University Gallery, San Diego State University, 1983), 17. 

41. "Das neue Programm" in Kunst und Kunstler 12 (1914): 308. Cited in Wietek, Schmidt-Rottluff in Hamburg, 35. Translation in Victor H. Miesel, 
ed., Voices of German Expressionism (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1970), 29. 

42. "liber die Kunst im neuen Staat," Kunstchronik und Kunstmarkt no. 8 (6 December 1918): 148, cited in Moeller and Schmidt, 259. 

43. Manfred Schlbsser, ed., Arbeitsrat fur Kunst: Berlin, 1918-1921, exh. cat. (Berlin: Akademie der Kiinste, 1980). 75. 

44. Valentiner, Schmidt-Rottluff, plate 19. 

45. Thiem and Zweite, 90-91 . 



Bni50f1 49 




Fig. 9 Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 
Portrait ofValentmer I, 1923 
Woodcut 

19 9/16 x 15 1/2 in. (49.7 x 39.3 cm) 
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 
The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for 
German Expressionist Studies 



Perhaps it was in gratitude for his first monograph that Schmidt- 
Rottluff made two woodcut portraits of Valentiner (at around this time he also made wood- 
cut portraits of Niemeyer and Schapire). 46 In both woodcuts Schmidt-Rottluff alluded to 
Valentiner's profession (using the art-historical tradition of the attribute) by placing works 
of art in the background. Apparently one of his own sculptures appears behind Valentiner's 
head in Portrait ofValentmer I (Bildnis Valentiner I, fig. 9) * 7 This print also signals a change 
in Schmidt-Rottluff's approach, with the large planes and volumes that had previously been 
constructed to create compositions replaced by webs of striations that describe natural 
forms. As did other Expressionists ranging from Otto Dix to Ludwig Meidner, Schmidt- 
Rottluff returned in the twenties to naturalistic handling of light, shade, and atmosphere, 
thus retreating from the formal advances of Portrait of Emy. 

As a collector, Valentiner assisted Schmidt-Rottluff's career just when 
an increasing prominence was being given to the Expressionist generation in art magazines 
and collectors' print portfolios, a tendency already set in motion by such pioneering transi- 
tional journals as Paul Westheim's quarterly Die Schaffenden (The Creators), appearing from 
1 9 1 8 on in portfolio format. 48 Die Schaffenden had included prints by Schmidt-Rottluff in the 
first folio (his magnificent 1913 landscape woodcut, House with Poplars [Haus mit Pappeln], 



46. Horst Uhr, Masterpieces of German Expressionism at the Detroit Institute of Arts (New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1982), 210. 

47. The sculpture somewhat resembles Schmidt-Rottluff's Figure Looking Backward (Ruckblickende, bronze, circa 1920, Brucke Museum), reproduced 
in Karl-Schmidt-Rottluff: Das nachgelassene Werk seit den zwanziger Jahren: Malerei, Plastik, Kunstwerk, exh. cat. (Berlin: Brucke Museum, 1977), 
no. 99, plate 55. While the figure behind Valentiner could also be interpreted as a person, the objects in the other woodcut portrait, Valentiner II 
(1923, Schapire 298), are clearly a painting and a wood sculpture. Attributes also appear in the self-portrait with Emy entitled Double-Portrait 
(Grohmann, 263). 

48. See Die Schaffenden: Eine Auswahl der Jahrgange I bis III und Katalog des Mappenwerkes (Berlin: Publica Verlagsgesellschaft in Berlin mbH), 17. 
Paul Westheim (1886-1963) also edited the influential periodical Das Kunstblatt. 



50 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Schapire 1 18) and in the third folio of the following year (Landscape [Russian Forest] 
[Landschaft (Russischer Wald)], woodcut, 1918, Schapire 229). 

Now Schmidt-Rottluff, Nolde, Kirchner, and various other 
Expressionists were featured in one of the most luxuriously produced journals of this time, 
Genius: /(gitschrift fur werdende und alte Kunst (Genius: Periodical for Nascent and Old Art). 
Edited by Carl Georg Heise and Kurt Pinthus (1886-1975) as an amalgam of literature 
and art, Genius sought to bring modernism within the established tradition, as implied in its 
subtitle. Articles by historians such as Niemeyer and Wilhelm Worringer explored medieval 
and Renaissance antecedents for Expressionism. For example, Schmidt-Rottluff's sculpture 
was discussed in Niemeyer's "Von Wesen und Wandlung der Plastik" (On the Essence and 
Transformation of Sculpture). 49 Schmidt-Rottluff's work was also featured prominently in 
the first number of the 1 920 volume. Its frontispiece was a color reproduction of a water- 
color head of 1 91 8 from Valentiner's collection; and the first article (by Heise) reproduced 
Schmidt-Rottluff's painting Studio Pause (Atelierpause, 1910). The issue continued with a 
substantial article by Ernst Gosebruch on Schmidt-Rottluff as a painter (with an illustration 
of Landscape with Early Sun [Landschaft mit fruher Sonne], 1919, also from Valentiner's 
collection). 50 Finally, Portrait of Erny was reproduced in Gosebruch's discussion to convey 
Schmidt-Rottluff's continued interest in mask-like elements reminiscent of both Picasso 
and Holdler.si 

This scholarly attention given to Schmidt-Rottluff complemented the 
art market "discovery" of the artist well underway in 1919, the year Portrait ofEmy was 
painted. As a printmaker, Schmidt-Rottluff gained access to a new, well-heeled audience by 
publishing a portfolio of nine religious woodcuts with Kurt Wolff's firm in Munich as well as 
a set of ten woodcuts on a variety of themes with I. B. Neumann, the Berlin book and print 
dealer who had first shown his work in 1914. In November, Schmidt-Rottluff had a major 
graphic exhibition in Halle curated by Niemeyer. 52 

Also in December, the Berlin dealer Ferdinand Moller (1882- 
1959) opened a show featuring the paintings of Schmidt-Rottluff, the first in a series of 
exhibitions dedicated to the Expressionists. 53 This show gained the sustained interest of 
Berlin collector Markus Kruss (1872-1962) in Schmidt-Rottluff's work. 54 He also had 
one-man shows in such important venues as the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hanover and 
Ludwig Schames's gallery in Frankfurt; and he began his participation in the exhibitions of 
the Dresden Secession Group. 

Concurrently Schmidt-Rottluff benefited from the more liberal 
cultural policies of the new government, which allowed established museums to acquire 
work by the Expressionists with some consistency for the first time. For example, in 1919 
Ludwig Justi bought Village on the Sea (Dorf am See, 1913) and in 1 920 Resting Woman 



49. Genius 1 (1919): 77-89. 

50. Gosebruch, 5-20. This volume also includes Valentiner's article "Ein Altersentwurf Rembrandts," 44-56. Although Heise's appointment as director 
of the Lubeck Museum took place on 1 May 1920, he was already under consideration, having been urged by Max Sauerlandt to apply for the post 
when it was vacated by Karl Schaefer, who moved to the Applied Arts Museum in Cologne in early 1919. See Russalka Nikolov, "Carl Georg Heise in 
Lubeck, 1920-1933" in Junge, 138-148. 

51. Gosebruch, 12-14. Portrait of Emy is not yet identified as being in Valentiner's collection and is titled simply Bildnis. 

52. Wietek, Schmidt-Rottluff in Hamburg. 38-39. 

53. See installation photographs in Eberhard Roters, Calerie Ferdinand Moller: Die Geschichte einer Galerie fur Moderne Kunst in Deutschland, 
T9T7-1956 (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1984), 37, with discussion of the show on 42-45. Cf. Thiem and Zweite, 88. 

54. Moeller and Schmidt, 261. 



Boot 51 



(Ruhende Frau, 1912), both directly from Schmidt-Rottluff, for a new contemporary art 
museum in Berlin. Opened in August 1919 in the Kronprinzenpalais on the capital's most 
prestigious avenue, Unter den Linden, this innovation was actually a new department of the 
National Gallery of which Justi, as the museum's director, had long dreamed. 55 In 1920 
Gustav Pauli, director of the Hamburg Kunsthalle, deaccessioned 400,000 marks' worth of 
paintings in order to acquire works by Nolde, Schmidt-Rottluff, and other modern artists. 56 
Among other important museum directors who contributed to Schmidt-Rottluff's career at 
this crucial juncture was Friedrich Schreiber-Weigend (1879-1953), who led the newly 
founded Stadtischen Kunstsammlung in Chemnitz. 57 He purchased Schmidt-Rottluff's 1910 
painting Autumn Landscape (Herbstlandschaft). 58 

By 1 920 Schmidt-Rottluff was becoming emblematic of Expressionism 
in ensuing discussions about the essence and meaning of the term. For example, Eckart von 
Sydow (who as director of Hanover's Kestner Gesellschaft would later acquire works by 
Schmidt-Rottluff along with those of the Constructivists) saw him as the quintessential 
Expressionist — an artist whose dramatic collisions of line and color transcended mere 
feeling to reveal the raw force of the "will" (in contrast with the "idyllic" and gentle por- 
trayals by the Impressionists). 59 Other commentators had been drawn to Schmidt-Rottluff's 
"tectonic" approach to "built" pictures, 60 while still others applauded the emotional direct- 
ness of his austere forms. As early as 1917, Ludwig Coellen had positioned Schmidt- 
Rottluff as the essence of Expressionism — the next stage in the sequence leading from 
Cezanne to Picasso. 61 

These two artists had released the elements of form from natural 
appearances, allowing their expressive potential to create space instead. Schmidt-Rottluff 
was said to have seen in this formal advance a new means of reflecting a world view 
(Wekbegriff) that can be called Expressionism. For Coellen, this "world view" was immanent 
(in opposition to the transcendental God of the Middle Ages and Renaissance) and 
vitalistic (in opposition to the materialist conception of Impressionism). As did Vasily 
Kandinsky, Coellen saw the artist's objectification of such a generalized world view as nec- 
essarily giving it a particular and individual inflection: 

The individual existence is a component and only a component of the 
universal life, which is the absolute .... Schmidt-Rottluff is seized by the 
wonder of existence. He sees being as it is, sustained and permeated by the 
essential cause from whence it originates. 62 

Coellen saw Schmidt-Rottluff moving from the "principle" of Cubism 
in such "picture-organisms" as Still-Life with Thistles (Stilleben mit Disteln, Kunsthalle, 
Bremen) to a complete formation in his portraits which, in their bright colors and rhythms, 

55. Moeller and Schmidt, 260-261, and Kurt Winkler, "Ludwig Justi — Der Konservative Revolutionar" in Junge, 179. 

56. See Karl Lorenz, "Betrachtungen und Wertung: Der eiserne Besen" in Die Rote Erde (January-March 1920): 348, reprinted in Wietek, 
Schmidt-Rottluff in Hamburg, 82. 

57. The Stadtischen Kunstsammlung was founded on 1 April 1920. See Moeller and Schmidt, 261. 

58. Moeller and Schmidt, no. 15. 

59. Eckart von Sydow, Die deutsche expressionistische Kultur und Malerei (Berlin: Furche, 1920), 56. 

60. Commentary for Schmidt-Rottluff's Landscape (Russian Forest) (Schapire 229) in Die Schaffenden 2, no. 3 (1919), reprinted in Die Schaffenden: Eine 
Auswahl, 191. 

61 . Ludwig Coellen, "Schmidt-Rottluff," Das Kunstblatt 1 , no. 1 (November 1917): 321 -329, reprinted in Die Schaffenden: Eine Auswahl, 61 -64. 

62. Coellen, 62-64. 



52 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 




Abb. 111. 



Abb. 112 



Die Abb. 109-112. 117—119, 123-125. 129-180 und 133-136 lind Auuehnilta 
aus Bildern der „modornen" Scliiile, die bounder., bezeichriehdo Gcslalten dantellen. 
Die ibnen gegenOborMehenden Abb. 113— 116, 120—122, 126— 12H, 131—132 und 
137—140 /eigen Urpcrlicbe und geistige Gebrechcn au. der Sammlung einer Klinik 

no 




Abb. 113. Puraljio, 114. Mongoloido Idio- 
tvpie, 115. Lrdimung der Augenbcwegung.i- 
nerveu. 116. Mikrei-Cephalie, Idiotic 



gctreues Bild von dem Zustand unseres Volkskorpers und den Zu- 
standen seiner L'mwelt, so gabe es kaum ein Wort, das dos Grauen- 
hafte dieses Prufungsergcbnisses deullich genug zu bezeichnen ver- 
mdchte. Es bestelien hier drei MdgHchkeiten: 

Entweder ist das, was als Kunst auf Markten und sonst uberragend 
in Erscheinung trilt, tats&chlich ein Ausdruck des Wescns derGesamt- 
heil des ganzen Volkes. Dann erschiene allerdings unsere Kulturwell zum 

9t 



Fig. 10 Paul Schultze-Naumburg. 
Kunst und Rasse 

Page spread showing illustrations, 
pp. 90-91 



could achieve universal meaning (AUgemeinbedeutung) in a coherent form." Nearly ten 
years later, in his widely influential book Die Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts (Art of the 20th 
Century) Carl Einstein extolled Schmidt-Rottluffs sparse, concentrated style as it matured 
around 1915 with its origins in early Cubism and African art." Women Outdoors (1919), 
Self-Portrait with Hat, and Portrait ofEmy are among the works illustrated. 65 For Einstein, 
Schmidt-Rottluffs importance lay in his concentration on volume and form and on his 
reliance entirely on pictorial means rather than "literary" associations. Even at the expense 
of becoming somewhat "clumsy" (klotiern), these pictures are "severe and honest" (streng 
und ehrlich). 

It is ironic that Portrait ofErny and Self-Portrait with Hat, paired in 
Einstein's book and in Valentiner's collection, should only two years later find their way into 
a new world — one diametrically opposed to Coellen and von Sydow's admiration of the 



63. Thiem and Zweite, no. 134, plate 48. 

64. Die Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts. 2nd. ed. (Berlin: Propylaen, 1928), 135. 

65. Portrait of Emy and the companion self-portrait are listed as being in the Valentiner collection in Einstein, 563, nos. 371 and 375. 



Btron 53 



consummate Expressionist and also opposed to Valentiner's collecting and integrating of 
modern art into the great Western tradition. In 1928 the two portraits were denigrated in 
Paul Schultze-Naumburg's virulent anti-modernist proto-Nazi tract Kunst und Rasse 
(fig. 10). 66 Over several years, the reactionary architect and genre painter Schultze- 
Naumburg had perfected a technique of contrasting photographs of purportedly "good" and 
"bad" examples in a series of architectural books entitled Kulturarbeiten (Cultural Works). 
Now, as an adherent to the blood-and-soil ideology of Adolf Hitler (whom he had met in 
1 924), he juxtaposed reproductions of Expressionist art with photographs of the physically 
and mentally disabled to imply that such art was "degenerate." 67 His book was among the 
prototypes for the catalogue for the infamous "Entartete Kunst" (Degenerate Art) exhibition 
held in Munich and various other cities in Germany beginning in 1 937. 

Some fifty works (twenty-five of them oil paintings) by 
Schmidt-Rottluff were pilloried in the exhibition, and more than 600 of his works were 
confiscated from German public museums. 68 Although he was harassed beginning in 1 933 
(when he was asked to resign from Berlin's prestigious Academy of the Arts), Schmidt- 
Rottluff had been able to see his works exhibited in German museums until after the 1 936 
Summer Olympics — and was even able to sell twenty-four watercolors at a show held that 
summer in Moller's Berlin gallery. However, by October 1 936 things had taken a turn for the 
worse. The Department of Contemporary Art that had been founded by Justi in Berlin in 
1919 was closed. In December of that year, Schmidt-Rottluff turned a weary but hopeful 
eye toward America, where he had recently had his first one-man show at the Westermann 
Gallery in New York. Having just learned that Valentiner had arranged to have the show 
brought to Detroit, he wrote his friend: 

That you have traced down my works everywhere, across all kinds of 
spatial distance — at Franke's, Moller's — and have again and again been 
stimulated to consider them — the watercolor exhibition, Westermann — 
has especially touched me in this year, all the more because in all the places 
where your advice was discernable, a certain joy seems to arise. It has surely 
been a long time since your first bold advance twelve years ago. Now, 
however, the endorsement slowly seems to be coming. 69 



Timothy 0. Benson is curator at the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist 
Studies, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

66. A second edition was published in Munich by Lehmann in 1935. 

67. Christoph Zuschlag, "Entartete Kunst" —Austellungsstrategien im Nazi-Deutschland (Worms: Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1995), 382. 

68. Stephanie Barron, ed., "Degenerate Art": The Fate of the Avant-Carde in Nazi Germany, exh. cat. (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, published 
in collaboration with Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1991). 340-347 

69. Schmidt-Rottluff to Valentiner, 13 December 1936, in Thiem and Zweite, 98. 



54 North Carolina Museum of Art Bu\letin,Voi.\}M*.XVl\, 1997 



PROVENANCE 

W. R. Valentiner, igig ; to Valentiner Estate, 1958; to 
NOMA, 1965. 



SELECTED EXHIBITIONS 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania College for Women, 
"Twentieth- Century Master Movements: German 
Expressionism" (organized by Museum of Modern 
Art, New York), 14 November — 
4 December I95 1 - then traveling (as Head 
of a Woman). 

Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, 
"German and Austrian Expressionism: 
Art in a Turbulent Era," IO March— ^ 
30 April 1978; catalogue, discussed 19, 
listed 30, fig. 21. 



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Gosebruch, Ernst. "Schmidt-Rottluff." 
GeniusZ, no. I (1920): 12-14, illus. 

Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Schmidt-Rottluff. Junge Kunst 
series, no. 16. Leipzig: Klinkhardt und Biermann, 
1920, 9, IO, illus. 19. Reprinted in Jahrbuch derjungen 
Kunst 1 (1920): 189-212; and in Der Cicerone 12 
(1920): 455-476. 

Einstein, Carl. Die Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts. 2nd. edi- 
tion. Berlin: Propylaen-Verlag, 1926, 371, 563, illus. 




Schultze-Naumburg, Paul. Kunst und Rasse . Munich: J. 
F. Lehmanns Verlag, 1 9 3 5 • 106, illus. 

Grohmann, Will. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Stuttgart: 
Verlag W. Kohlhammer, 1956, 94, 97, 201, 289, 
illus. 

Bier, Justus. "Biennial Report of the Director, July I, 
1963-June 30, 1965." North Carolina Museum of Art 
Bulletin 6 and 7 (1966): 79, illus. fig. 33. 

Bowron, Edgar Peters, ed. Introduction to 
the Collections. Raleigh: North Carolina 
Museum of Art, 1983, illus. 24. 

Barron, Stephanie, ed. "Degenerate Art": 
The Fate of the Avant- Garde in Nazi Germany. 
Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Mu- 
seum of Art, 1991, 12, illus. fig. 3. 

Introduction to the Collections, rev. ed. 
Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of 
Art, 1992, illus. 259. 



Benson 55 





56 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



lyond H\mw0slU Grai Bridge II. Note on l/l/nr and Itory 

Peter Nisbet 



On 1 9 July 1916, Lyonel Feininger's youngest son, six-year-old Lux, and his housekeeper, 
Anni, were at the train station in Zehlendorf, a suburb on the southern outskirts of Berlin 
where the American artist lived with his family. They had gone to greet a hospital train with 
some 400 newly wounded German soldiers returning from the murderous battles on the 
Somme. The children were distributing flowers (Lux was handing out dahlias), and adults 
were passing out cigars. In recounting this in a letter the same day to his wife, Feininger 
tells how, moved by Anni's and Lux's descriptions of the scene, he immediately sent some 
of the cigars that he had received a few days earlier for his forty-fifth birthday. Less than a 
week later, on 25 July, the artist reported that Anni's elder brother, aged twenty-seven, had 
been killed in the fighting. 1 

In that same year, 1916, Feininger painted the North Carolina 
Museum of Art's The Green Bridge 11 (fig. 1 , Hess 1 63). 2 World War I and its progress were 
impinging as much on the artist's life as they had from the beginning, though his letters 
record a trajectory of changing responses and slowly growing disillusionment. 3 As early as 
8 September 1914, Feininger had noted on a postcard "Mauberge has fallen. 40,000 pris- 
oners." In summer 1915, this matter-of-factness had given way to ringing enthusiasm at the 
"wonderful progress in the East" in the campaigns against the Russian army. "Yesterday," 
notes a letter of 6 August, "was a day extraordinarily rich in news of victories! End of the 
first year of war!" There is here little evidence of the weary, horrified skepticism to come. 

By summer 1916, Feininger was writing bitterly of the "eternally 
anguishing thought of war" (12 July), which he saw as "this monstrous, man-eating 
machine" (23-24 July). While he still patriotically supported Germany, asserting that 
"all those who are waging war against us, are doing so from the same imperialist reason, 
but they accuse Germany of this very ambition!" (31 July), he anticipated that, by the end 
of the year, the combatants will realize the "pointlessness of further struggle and devasta- 
tion" (22 July). 

In the letters of 1 91 7, however, the war is reflected primarily in long 
passages about rationing, the availability of food and artist's materials, and worries about 
the war economy (for example, 3 and 1 1 August). "The gas and coal ordinances can go to 
hell, along with the whole rest of the mess" (18 August). A bored letter from his friend, the 
poet Alfred Knoblauch, prompts the thought that "the war only interests a few people any 



1. Feininger's letters to his wife, Julia, are in the collection of the Busch-Reisinger Museum, on deposit at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, as 
part of the very extensive Feininger Archive (bMS Ger 146). They are quoted by kind permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University, and T. 
Lux Feininger. Further references to these letters simply cite the date in the body of the text. All translations in this essay are by the author. I would like 
to thank Huston Paschal, Achim Moeller, and Ulrich Luckhardtfor help and guidance. 

2. Hess numbers refer to the summary catalogue of the artist's oils compiled by his widow, Julia, published as an appendix to the standard, but now 
outdated monograph on the artist by Hans Hess, Lyonel Feininger (New York, 1959). Achim Moeller Fine Art, New York, is preparing a new catalogue 
raisonne of the oil paintings. 

3. Feininger's creative work and experience during the war years awaits a detailed study, using letters and documents beyond the correspondence with 
Julia primarily cited here. (The Feininger Archive at Harvard contains a wealth of material not yet fully evaluated by scholars, especially those who have 
relied on typed excerpts from Feininger's correspondence prepared by Julia after his death.) This preliminary essay hopes to go beyond previous assess- 
ments, which have underplayed the importance of the war and rendered unsatisfying, brief judgments, such as that by Hess, who argues that the artist 
"tried to remain as unprejudiced as possible and to stay above the warring parties" (Hess, 72). Although Feininger is not mentioned, a useful and com- 
pendious survey of the relationship of European and American artists to the 1914-1918 conflict is provided by Richard Cork, Bitter Truth: Avant-Carde 
Art and the Great War, exh. cat. (New Haven, 1994). 



H\M 57 





3ritgemfi|$cd SEOappcn 3tmcrifni 



more" (6 August). 4 Clues as to the effect of the war on Feininger in its final year are rare 
(Feininger and his wife did not spend any summer months apart in 1 91 8, so there are no 
letters), but certain postwar comments about his state as a "downtrodden, war-sick, 
melancholy, brooding human being" can give some idea of the artist's state of mind. 5 

This essay asks whether the war, which played such a prominent role 
in Feininger's emotional life, as recorded in this correspondence, also had a noticeable 
impact on his visual production. To what extent can the painting under discussion be use- 
fully related to the war and its effects? 

In general terms, the most immediate reflection of the European 
upheaval can be found in the political cartoons that Feininger drew in 1914 and 1915 in 
support of the German war effort, such as one criticizing the then-non-combatant United 



4. After the United States entered the war in April 1917, the constraints on the artist increased. Feininger, as an American citizen, had to report to 
the local police station every day, and there were certain restrictions on his movements. In the letter of 27 August 1917 in which he describes this, 
Feininger nevertheless affirmed energetically that he was "a loyal friend of Germany [who] despises the policy of the American government." 

5. Feininger to his father-in-law, Karl Lilienfeld, 30 June 1919, Feininger Archive, Busch-Reisinger Museum. 



58 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Fig. 3 Lyonel Feininger 
The Battle Fleet, 1915 
Watercolor and ink on paper 
8 1/4 x IO 1/16 in. (21 x 25.5 cm) 
Collection of Marvin and 
Janet Fishman, Milwaukee 
Photograph by Dedra M. Walls 

Fig. 4 Lyonel Feininger 
Zeppelin above Neppermin, 1918 
Watercolor and ink on paper 
Dimensions and location unknown 
Photograph courtesy Feininger Archie 
Busch-Reisinger Museum 



States for its alleged support of the Allies (fig. 2). 6 The artist's early career had been 
focused on cartoons and caricatures for humorous and satirical journals in Berlin, Paris, and 
Chicago. However, having achieved considerable success and renown in this activity, he 
had, beginning in 1907, laboriously transformed himself into a painter and serious artist. 
The decision to return to cartoons may reflect a desire to earn money, but it was surely also 
a genuine response to the political situation. His letters certainly give occasional evidence 
of the genuinely creative enthusiasm with which he undertook this work. 7 

Sometimes aspects and echoes of the war make an appearance in 
Feininger's independent works on paper. Examples can be found in such works as a water- 
color of New Year's Eve 1915, entitled The Battle Fleet (fig. 3), in which, typically for 
Feininger, the warring ships are nineteenth-century men-of-war, watched from the shore by 
a Biedermeier family and others, or a drawing of January 1918 showing a Zeppelin airship 
hovering menacingly over one of the artist's beloved small German villages (fig. 4) . Later in 
1918, Feininger painted two watercolors on the theme of Dionysiac victory celebrations. 8 
However, in Feininger's painted oeuvre, the relationship to World War I is more oblique, 
more implied, more allusive. To understand the ways in which a painting such as The Green 
Bridge II might also have an association with the war, one must first consider a number of 
Feininger's other works from the years 1 91 4 to 1918. 





6. For information on Feininger's career and production as a cartoonist, see Lyonel Feininger: Karikaturen, Comic Strips, lllustrationen, 1885-1915, 
exh. cat. (Hamburg. 1981), where the wartime work is discussed and illustrated under nos. 162-171 Ulrich Luckhardt's essay for this catalogue, "Ein 
bekannter Maler— ein vergessener Karikaturist," addresses the chauvinistic content of this work, pp 14, 16. 

7. See, for example, his letter of 4 August 1915, discussing his invention of an anti-British cartoon (Karikaturen, cat. no. 171, the drawing for which is 
now on extended loan to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, [inv. no. EL67.1400]). Although there is no evidence that the financial support that 
Feininger received from his father-in-law throughout his first decade as a serious painter was cut back with the war, the opportunity to reduce his 
dependence on that support may have been welcome. Furthermore, the outbreak of the war had put an end to well-advanced plans for Feininger to 
design a series of toy locomotives, a project which the artist viewed as a great potential source of income. 

8. Both watercolors are now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York (inv. nos. 129.66 and 130.66). Close to the contemporaneous work of George 
Crosz in technique and style, these works perhaps criticize the frenzied celebrations of the enemies of defeated Germany. 



Niskt 59 




60 NorthCarolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Fig. 6 Lyonel Feininger 

The Deserted Child, 1915 

Watercolor and ink on paper 

12 3/8 x 9 1/4 in. (31.5 x 23.5 cm) 

Collection Rodman C. Rockefeller 

Photograph courtesy Achim Moeller Fine 

Art, New York 




Take, for example, the extraordinary Self '- Portrait of 1915 (fig. 5, 
Hess 1 37). Overt depictions of the artist's own appearance are notably rare in Feininger's 
paintings; certainly there are none that exhibit the expressionist intensity of this work. A 
quarter-century after it was painted, the artist recalled it in the following terms: 

[I]n all the years of my work as a painter I have never painted a self- 
portrait with the intention of giving a physical likeness. However, I have 
here one painting of a head for which I used my own likeness which was 
conceived in 1915 during the first world war as the visible expression of a 
state of spiritual rebellion. . . . As a creative work, I consider it one of my 
best .... The head is at least one and a half times life-size, being monu- 
mentally dimensioned. The expression is demoniac in its grief and fierce 
repudiation; the coloring in support of the spiritual content of the 
picture, symbolical: the head, of a ghastly, pale greenish yellow; the 
garment, a dull olive. This color combination is set against the most 
unfathomable, maybe most spiritual, blue I have ever painted; the blue 
enclosed by a black gothic arch. The picture is uncompromisingly severe. 9 

The emotional ferocity of the picture is startling, especially in the 
work of an artist perhaps now best known for a lyrical, almost romantic approach to depic- 
tions of landscape and architecture. Moreover, this self-portrait is not an isolated instance 
of emotionally resonant compositions from these years. In 1915 and 1916, 
Feininger was concerned with the theme of The Deserted Child, in which a solitary 
boy is forsaken by four adults who turn and walk away. Interestingly, the figure at 
the right in both the painting of 1916 (Hess 157) and the watercolor of the 
previous year (fig. 6) appears to be wearing the peaked cap of a military uniform, 
thereby making the unsurprising link between abandoned or orphaned children and 
the effects of war. The rigorously simple monumentality of the composition protects 
it from sentimentality, leaving instead a powerfully melancholy and pessimistic 
impression. Given the history of the artist's own childhood in America, in which he 
was sent away to live with friends in the country by his unhappy and incompatible 
parents, it is hard not to see here another form of self-portraiture and autobio- 
graphical reflection. 10 

It is clear that World War I provoked a marked rise in the emotional 
temperature of Feininger's paintings. In an important, linked development, this period 
also saw substantially increased variety and diversity in the artist's approaches to 
painting. Feininger's stylistic pluralism reached its apogee at this time. Consider the 
wide spectrum of styles and moods evident in paintings of 1 91 6. These can range 



9. Feininger to Dr. Walter Heil of the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, 30 October 1942, Feininger Archive, Busch-Reisinger 
Museum. Compare the artist's inscription on the verso of a photograph of this painting (also in the Feininger Archive, Busch-Reisinger Museum): 

"a terrifying portrat [sic], indicating my stress during the war, but not painted in detail after Nature." For a recent discussion of this work, see Florens 
Deuchler, Lyonel Feininger: Sein Weg zum Bauhaus-Meister (Leipzig, 1996), 971, though Deuchler is incorrect to write that Herwarth Walden, the 
director of the Sturm gallery, wanted to make a postcard of this painting. Walden actually wanted Feininger to sit for a portrait photograph for a 
postcard at the time of his 1917 solo exhibition at the gallery, an idea Feininger rejected (Feininger to Julia, 11 August 1917). 

10. Ernst Scheyer also believes the picture to have "biographical significance" (Lyonel Feininger: Caricature and Fantasy [Detroit, 1964], 19). Feininger 
recounts some details of his family's dark emotional history in a lengthy letter to Julia on 15 August 1917, making little attempt to hide his bitterness 
(as when, for example, he blames the early death of his sister on parental discord). Interestingly, one of Feininger's most surprisingly anecdotal and 
disturbing early pictures also deals with the theme of adult cruelty to children. The Child Murderess of 1908 (Hess 31), repeated in another version of 
1913 (Hess 103), shows a worker searching a drain, presumably. for the killed baby of the apparently loose woman standing nearby. Whenever 
Feininger exhibited these paintings, he gave them the protective, neutralizing title of Man Hole or Street Sweepers. 



Nisbtt 61 




Fig. 7 Lyonel Feininger 
Vollersroda III, 1916 
Oil on canvas 

31 l/2 x 39 3/8 in. (80 x IOO cm) 
Private collection. New York 
Photograph courtesy Feininger Archive. 
Busch-Reisinger Museum 



from the strict prismatic Cubism of Vollersroda III (fig. 7, Hess 1 64) and Behind the Church 
(Hess 1 55) to the willfully crude, child-like simplicity of The Lovers (Hess 1 67) and The Blue 
Clown (fig. 8, Hess 1 54), from the expressionist monumentality of The Deserted Child 
discussed above to the decorative luminosity of The Green Bridge II. 

Feininger himself was conscious at the time of this multiplicity of 
styles, and of its relationship to the world-historical events surrounding him. He sought, in 
a major programmatic letter (probably to his friend Alois Schardt), to defend himself against 
possible criticism. It is worth quoting this text, written in March 1917 but not published 
until 1931, at length: 

We have eliminated nature as a "guideline" and "standard of comparison" 
for creating [Gestalten]. We have overcome nature in the effort to be able to 
create freely . The individual work serves each time as the expression of 
our most authentic state of the soul, and of the ineluctable, imperative 
necessity of liberation through appropriate creation: in the rhythm, form, 
color and mood of the picture. From this alone, there emerges the hetero- 
geneity of creations by one and the same painter, a heterogeneity which 



62 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Fig. 8 Lyonel Feininger 
The Blue Clown, 1916 
Oil on canvas 

19 x 16 in. (48.2 x 4.I.6 cm) 
Estate of the artist 

Photograph byAdolph Studly, courtesy 
Feininger Archive. Busch-Reisinger 
Museum 




leads, according to hitherto prevailing criteria of judgment, so easily to 
the perception of inconsistency in the artist. . . . Modern man is a 
tormented, multiplicitous, differentiated being, and the high goal of 
achieving the simplest form for a lastingly valid pictorial expression, is 
unspeakably difficult to attain. Hence the strong pendulum swings 
between extreme rigidity and subsequent release through agitation, 
between colorlessness and color, all of which are states of the soul, not 
a program. The terrible world events weigh heavily on us and leave dark 
traces on my pictures, as you know. What could be more self-evident than 
my ever recurring battles for gaiety in the picture, which strives for exactly 
the opposite , i.e. movement and colorfulness? 1 ' 

Surely this is the dialectical context within which The Green Bridge II 
is best understood. A brief visual inventory of the picture can emphasize its gentle charm. 
The Green Bridge II shows a view down a narrow street bounded and visually closed off by 
rows of buildings with mansard roofs. Filling the street is a disparate group of figures of 
many types, ranging from workers carrying tools (a pickax and a shovel) to a young, 
short-skirted woman, cloaked men, an adult and child, and several others. At the left, a man 
enters a lit interior, perhaps a bar; at the right and in the center, street lights glow in the 
dusk. Across the foreground of the composition stretches a single span of an arched 
bridge, along which further figures can be seen walking and observing the 
activity below. Painted in a warm palette of mauves, greens, olives, pinks, 
and oranges, the entire scene is energized by a rhythm of gentle curves that 
extend contours and forms from objects into the surrounding atmosphere or 
adjacent motifs. 

This is a compact, densely populated scene of small-town inhabi- 
tants returning from work at the end of the day. Feininger subjects his fig- 
ures to some mild anatomical distortion, though by no means with the 
exaggeration and scalar disproportion of his caricatures and other closely 
related paintings. One commentator has justly described the painting as 
"toylike and dancing." 12 

At one level, then, The Green Bridge II derives its meaning from 
Feininger's conscious striving for gaiety, movement, color, and ease, after 
his work in dark times on more emotionally strenuous, rigorous composi- 
tions. The painting's very motif of the end of the workday with its attendant 
pleasures (drinking at a bar, the company of young women) is an emblem 
of this moment of relaxation and recreation. 



11. Reprinted in Lothar Schreyer, Lyonel Feininger: Dokumente und Visionen (Munich, 1957), 19-20. Feininger goes on to use the example of the 
composer who can use a wide range of tempi and genres (orchestral, sonata, song, fugue, etc.), in order to stress that in Expressionism "the picture is 
elevated to the most sensitive measuring instrument ['Dynameter'] of our emotions." In a published exchange of comments with the poet Alfred 
Knoblauch which originally appeared in 1917 in the avant-garde journal Der Sturm to coincide with the artist's first solo exhibition at the Sturm gallery, 
Feininger rendered the idea about variety and alternation in his pictures in sharper-edged language: "You must have noticed the malice in my work — 
after a devout, deeply felt religious work, I always let off a lot of steam afterwards with comical, farcical pictures" (Schreyer, 25). 

12. Hess, 74. 



Ni5to 63 




Fig. 9 Lyonel Feininger 
Street in Arceuil, 1915 
Watercolor, ink, and charcoal 
on paper 

II 1/4 x 9 7/16 in. (28.5 x 24 cm) 
Museum of Modern Art, New York, 
The Joan and Lester Avnet Collection 
Photograph by Petersen 



It is also at the level of subject and image that the painting distin- 
guishes itself from the actual and immediate circumstances of 1916. The painting relates 
emphatically to the past, either remembered or imagined, in at least three important ways. 
All three points of memorial reference relate to Feininger's connection with French culture 
in ways that suggest that The Green Bridge II can be considered as a meditation on France, 
one of Germany's main enemies in World War I. 

Firstly, the painting harks back to views and experiences that 
Feininger had had in Paris during his stays in the French capital. Many of his quickly noted 
sketches from 1 906 to 1 908 record Parisian houses, street scenes, and views of the 
Meudon and Arceuil aquaducts; and there are a large number of worked-up drawings from 
the following years that treat the theme of individuals grouped on a street extending back- 
wards between rows of old houses. 13 It was the move to Paris ten years earlier, in 1 906, 
that had set the stage for Feininger's gradual abandonment of cartooning and first attempts 
at serious painting. His affection for France remained constant. 14 

Further confirmation that Paris was very much on the artist's mind 
during these war years is provided by a number of other works from around 1916 taking 



13. For a selection of the artist's so-called "nature-notes" of Parisian subjects (though one almost exclusively dependent on works in the collection 
of Achim Moeller Fine Art), see the illustrations in Deuchler, especially in the section "Feininger in Paris" (pp. 30-60). Deuchler also reproduces a 
small sketch, dated to 1908, which must count as one of the earliest ideas for the Green Bridge composition (fig. 180, p. 164). The view rendered in 
the painting under discussion has not yet been definitively identified. It clearly relates to scenes of aquaducts and viaducts passing over urban streets 
which Feininger must have seen, but is probably not the Arceuil aquaduct, whose high double arches and grand extension are so unmistakable. 

14. Significantly, while Feininger may have expressed negative opinions about the Russians, the English, and the Germans in his letters and cartoons 
during the war, he appears to have spared the French any criticism. The special place that France continued to hold in his mind can be occasionally 
glimpsed in his letters during the war, such as when the artist adds the phrase "Quatorze Juilletl" on a letter to Julia of 14 July 1916, or when, 
reporting on a Berlin discussion about modern art with dealers and sympathetic enthusiasts, he can say "but in the end it is only in Paris that one 
understands what's important today" (30 July 1916). 



64 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Fig. 10 Lyonel Feininger 

Street Scene, 1915 

Watercolor and ink on paper 

12 1/8 x 9 1/2 in. C30.7 x 24.I cm) 

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin — 

Preussischer Kulturbesitz 

Kupferstichkabinett 




Parisian views as their theme. For example, several watercolors show the streets of Arceuil 
and its distinctive viaduct, including two closely related compositions of late March 1915 
(figs. 9 and 10). > 5 

Secondly, the implied time period of the depicted scene is a rather 
unspecific moment in the nineteenth century, perhaps the early nineteenth century, to judge 
by the capes, tall hats, and other cues. It has been plausibly suggested that Feininger is 
here, as elsewhere, generally evoking the world of his favorite novelists, Honore de Balzac, 
Victor Hugo, and Eugene Sue. Many of their works are "set in Paris in the 1830s (our 
beloved romantic period)," as Feininger wrote to his wife about Sue's Mysteres de Paris 
(3 August 1 909). « 

And thirdly, the picture recalls rather precisely an earlier picture, 
Green Bridge of 1909 (fig. 1 1 , Hess 44), which presents a virtually identical scene. 17 Green 
Bridge can stand for France not only in its depicted view, but also in its public history. It was 
included in Feininger's first significant contribution to an art exhibition, the six works that he 
showed at the Salon des Independants in Paris in May 1911. Furthermore, this 1 909 paint- 
ing was the only earlier composition included among the illustrations of his most recent 



15. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, also holds a drawing entitled Arceuil II of 19 March 1915 (inv. no 79.78). See also the Schangdarm (that 
is, Gendarme) of 25 May 1915 and the Street in Paris of 22 September 1915, both illustrated in Serge Sabarsky Gallery, Lyonel Feininger: Drawings 
and Watercolors, exh. cat. (New York, 1979), pis. 4 and 6. 

16. Ulrich Luckhardt, Lyonel Feininger (Munich, 1989), 28f„ summarizes the evidence for Feininger's intensive involvement with these authors in 
1908-09, and makes the plausible case that "it was literature that enabled Feininger to give his work a new content, which for him was in fact the 
decisive step away from his work with cartoons." The continuing importance of Hugo to Feininger should not be underestimated, as two examples can 
show. On 4 August 1912, the artist wrote to Julia of his unbounded love for this author, an incomparable visionary of the truth. And then, in 1916, the 
year of The Green Bridge II, Feininger enigmatically inscribed the name of Jean Valjean, the hero of Hugo's Les Miserables, under his signature on a 
rigorous Cubist drawing of a village scene, dated 7 April 1916 (Museum of Modern Art, New York [inv. no. 81.78]). For an illustration and excellent 
discussion of this drawing and Feininger's relationship to Cubism, see John Elder-field, The Modern Drawing: TOO Works on Paper from the Museum 

of Modern Art (New York: 1983), 98f. However, Elderfield does not address this puzzling inscription, which, moreover, is associated with the additional 
inscribed date 26.x. 16 (perhaps referring to 1816 and the time in which the novel is set?) and the word "Fibel." 

17. This painting, now apparently in a private collection in New York, has unfortunately not been accessible for study. For a color reproduction, see R. 
N. Ketterer, L Feininger: Gemalde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Graphik, exh. cat. (Campione, 1965), no. 1, p. 5. In 1910-11, Feininger made an etching 
of this composition (in reverse), which was published in 1922, indicating a continuing interest in the theme and composition. The North Carolina 
Museum of Art owns a copy of the etching, a gift of W. R, Valentiner (65.10.1 7). See L. E. Prasse, Feininger: A Definitive Catalogue of His Graphic 
Work (Cleveland, 1972), no. 22. 



Nisbrt 65 





18. les Tendances Nouvelles, no. 56 (November 1912), paid substantial attention to Feininger. His artist's statement appears on pp. 1339-1340. A 
reproduction of a major recent painting (Hess 63) occupied the cover of the journal, and four other paintings of 1912 (Hess 68, 79, 87, 93), in addition 
to Green Bridge of 1909, were illustrated on three inside pages (following p. 1346). In his extensive autobiographical statement, Feininger stresses the 
Latin strains in his ancestry, pointing to his father's Italian grandmother and his mother's French grandmother, making him "rather romano-latino- 
germano-american" (p. 1339). For information on this rare, little-known but highly important Symbolist journal, its contents, collaborators, dating, 
and significance, see the introduction by Jonathan Fineberg to the reprint in four volumes (New York, 1980). The circumstances and extent of 
Feininger's contact with the journal and its thought-world and its influence on his art have yet to be explored. It is noteworthy that Feininger exhibited 
two prints at the Salon organized by the journal in Paris in 1911 (see Henry Breuil, "Le Salon Unioniste de 1911," Les Tendances Nouvelles, no. 52 
[December 1911], p. 1231, who describes the artist as a "master of the fantastic" and his vision as "colossal, unheard-of"). 

19. Interestingly, three other paintings of this period undertake an identical transformation of an earlier work into one structured by a network of 
curved, intersecting forms. Compare the earlier and later versions of Jesuits (1908 [Hess 27] and 1915 [Hess 135]); Newspaper Readers (1908 and 
1909 [Hess 34 and 42) and 1916 [Hess 165]); and Yellow Street (1909 [Hess 49] and 1917/18 [Hess 186]). This imitative, recapitulatory procedure is 



66 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



work that Feininger published in the Parisian Symbolist journal Les Tendances Nouvelles late 
in 1 91 2. This issue also included Feininger's first published statement, in which he remarks 
"[i]t was only in France that I learned to know the supreme happiness of working for one- 
self and of developing oneself in art." 18 

It was also in France, during a visit to the very 1911 Salon just 
mentioned, that Feininger encountered the Cubist works that were to profoundly influence 
his concept of form and composition. The difference between the two versions of Green 
Bridge is to be located in this discovery of Cubism. The 1916 painting translates the 1 909 
composition rather literally into a mildly Cubist composition, with the idiosyncracy that the 
Cubist interpenetration of forms is accomplished exclusively with curved lines and shad- 
ings. This rhythmic patterning extends even to the artist's curved signature in the lower left, 
which flexes to match the bridge's arch. 

In an optimistic letter of summer 1 91 6 to Julia, Feininger writes of 
having had "as good and cheerful a working day as ever in my happiest times. I am now, at 
last, in equilibrium; . . . and have found color. Also, if you wish (and you do wish!), the 
curve" (29 July 1 91 6). 19 Perhaps the curve, if this enigmatic allusion can be so understood, 
carried a certain personal meaning, as a formal device that not only suited a colorful, serene 
composition, but also paid a private tribute to his wife's aesthetic preference. After all, 
Feininger often credited Julia with a key role in his maturation as a serious artist in Paris (as 
in a letter of 1 5 August 1917), and a covert reference to her encouragement would not be 
out of place in a painting that appears almost to be a memorial tribute to the time, place, 
and circumstances of that breakthrough. 

The Green Bridge II is not the most emotionally wrought work of 
1916, not the most experimental or the most prophetic of the artist's future development. 
In fact, its retrospective, traditional, intimate character might seem to render it anomalous 
and marginal. But consider Feininger's remarks in a letter of August 1916 about taking 
walks with Julia in the spring: "Perhaps our nerves and senses were exhausted at the time, 
but afterwards it becomes so deeply clear to one, how happy we were. The whole question 
of consciousness and memory (i.e. yearning) is one that concerns me more and more inten- 
sively, the older I get. It is understandable that the creative artist tries to clarify his thoughts 
about this — because yearning is the motive for everything" (1 August 1 91 6). 20 Feininger's 
painting was surely a part of this process of clarification, carried out in the midst of the war, 
with its turmoil of spiritual anguish and conflicting allegiances. 

Moreover, Feininger himself explicitly recognized that the war had 
contributed to his understanding of the central motif of this painting: the dominant, embrac- 
ing bridge. In his 191 7 exchange with Knoblauch, Feininger wrote that "the church, mill, 
the bridge, the house — and the cemetery — have filled me since childhood with deep, 



actually rare in Feininger's painted oeuvre, and must be distinguished from his common practice of working in series or with many different variations 
on a similar motif, seen from different vantage points, such as the famous group of works dealing with the image of the village church at Gelmeroda. 
For the latter, see Andreas Huneke, "Motif und Thema in den Bildserien Lyonel Feiningers" in Wolfgang Biiche, ed., Lyonel Feininger: Gelmeroda, Ein 
Maler und sein Motif, exh. cat. (Stuttgart, 1995), 15-21. 

20. Although it has not been sufficiently stressed that, in Feininger's usage, the notion of "yearning" ("Sehnsucht") could apply both to the past (as 
in nostalgia) and to the future, the artist's consistency on the importance of memory is remarkable. For example, shortly before he died, he could write 
to old friends that "most people seem to look upon memories as something to be repudiated as being mere 'escapism' — out of present day delightful 
realities I take it— but I stand firmly in my conviction that memories are precious and serve to clarify, and are a source of creative stimulus. When 
at work, I receive an upsurge of warmth and renewal of happiness in what I am doing, and would not exchange this for all the 'positive realism' of 
our present, so full of errors and incapacity" (Feininger to Theodore and Margy Spicer-Simson, 31 August 1954, Feininger Archive, Busch-Reisinger 
Museum). For a very subtle and rewarding reading of Feininger in terms of his nostalgia for the Germany remembered by the generation of his 
emigrant parents, see Reinhold Heller, '"Memories are rooted in childhood days': Emigrant Identity in the Work of Lyonel Feininger" in Lyonel 
Feininger: Awareness, Recollection, and Nostalgia, exh. cat. (Chicago, 1992), 6-15. 



WlSkt 67 



reverent feelings. For they are symbolic; but only since the war broke out have I understood 
why I must repeatedly represent them anew in pictures." 21 The context of this passage 
implies that the yearning for calm and peace amidst anguish and disjunction accounts for 
Feininger's recurrent treatment of these subjects, surely as deeply felt symbols of stability. 

That the circumstances of war in all their complexity helped to deter- 
mine the subject, form, and meaning of The Green Bridge II makes it all the more fitting, if 
entirely coincidental, that circumstances of a later war determined its subsequent history. 22 
By March 1 938, the painting was owned by one of the leading Berlin dealers in contempo- 
rary German painting, Ferdinand Moller. 23 At that time it was included in a shipment of 
eighteen paintings by such artists as Kandinsky, Pechstein, and Schmidt-Rottluff to the 
Detroit Institute of Arts (two paintings by Dix had been sent late the previous year, and one 
was purchased by the museum) . Moller had officially agreed to lend the works to the Detroit 
museum, but had in fact arranged that its director, W. R. Valentiner, would keep the works 
to protect them from the National Socialists' increasingly vehement and threatening attacks 
on modern art. 

When Moller attempted to reclaim these works after the war's end, 
he was informed that the paintings had been confiscated in 1 950 by the American govern- 
ment as enemy property. After many years of effort and after Moller's death in 1 956, his 
widow, Maria Moller-Garny, succeeded in making a deal with the American government 
under which she would donate two paintings to American museums and buy back the 
remainder. In this way, The Green Bridge II entered the collection of the North Carolina 
Museum of Art, surely chosen by Mrs. Moller-Garny because Valentiner was then director of 
the institution. There it now hangs, a picture about France, painted by an American living in 
Germany during a war with France, "rescued" by an American museum directed by a 
German emigre, and donated to another American museum by another German because of 
another war. For all its lightness and charm, the burden of history weighs quite heavily on 
The Green Bridge II. 



Peter Nisbet is Daimler-Benz Curator of the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University 
Art Museums. 



21. Schreyer, 23. Certainly, bridges are a constant and oft-remarked presence in his oeuvre. For 1916, see, for example, two watercolors of 26 January 
and 29 September showing anglers on bridges (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York [inv. no. 48.1172x16] and Museum of Modern Art, New 
York [inv. no. 258.64]). Incidentally, Feininger's stylistic and thematic debt to Paul Klee, as evidenced in these and similar watercolors of the period, has 
not yet been sufficiently explored. 

22. The following details are taken from Eberhard Roters, Galerie Ferdinand Moller: Die Ceschichte einer Calerie fur moderne Kunst in Deutschland, 
7977-7956 (Berlin, 1984), 155f , 221 -227. 

23. Its previous owner was a certain Major Hulsmann in Berlin, who according to a directory of 1927, owned a large collection of paintings, prints, 
porcelains, furniture, and antiques (see Deuchler, 198). It is not known when Hulsmann acquired The Green Bridge II and another painting by Feininger 
of 1918 (Hess 191), or when both entered the possession of Ferdinand Moller. (The notation in Hess that Hulsmann also owned the 1916 version 

of Newspaper Readers [Hess 165] is surely mistaken, as this picture formed part of the artist's collection until his death.) Perhaps in confirmation that 
he did not see it as a major picture, The Green Bridge II seems not to have been exhibited by Feininger until late 1921, when it was included in an 
exhibition in Erfurt (according to information provided in conversation by Achim Moeller, New York). 



68 North Carolina Museum of Art Bu/fain, Volume XVII, 1997 



The Green Bridge II (fig. i), detail 



PROVENANCE 

Julia Feininger, artist's wife, Weimar, Germany; Maj. 
Hiilsmann, Berlin, after 193O; Ferdinand Moller, 
Berlin, by 1938; to wife, Maria Moller-Garny, 
Cologne, n.d.; [on extended loan to the Detroit 
Institute of Arts, March 1938 - December 1957]; 
given to NOMA, 1957. 

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS 

Erfurt, Germany, Kunstvereinsheim, 
Verein fur Kunst und Kunstgewerbe, 
[oils, watercolors, and drawings, 1907 — 
1921], opened 6 November 1921. 

Dresden, Galerie Neue Kunst Fides, 
1929. 

Weimar, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen zu 
Weimar, Feininger Room, July 1929 — 
November 1930. 

Columbus, Ohio, Columbus Gallery of 
Fine Arts, "German Expressionism," IO February — 
9 March 1961; catalogue, discussed 7, no. IO. 

Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, "Lyonel Feininger: 
The Formative Years," 8-27 September 1964.; cata- 
logue, no. 138. 

Munich, Haus der Kunst, "Lyonel Feininger," 
24. March -13 May 1973, then traveling; catalogue, 
no. 90. 

Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, "Master- 
pieces from the North Carolina Museum of Art," 
II March -13 April 1975. 




SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Byrnes, James B. "Some Recent Accessions of 
Twentieth Century Painting." North Carolina Museum of 
Art Bulletin I (Winter 1957-Spring 1958); 40-41, 
illus. fig. I. 

Hess, Hans. Lyonel Feininger. Stuttgart: W. Kohl- 
hammer Verlag, [1959], 76, illus. fig. 163. 

Hess, Hans. Lyonel Feininger. New York: Harry N. 
Abrams, 1961, 74, illus. fig. 163. 

Ness, June L. , ed. Lyonel Femmger. New 
York: Praeger Publishers, 1974, possibly 
noted I02, illus. (as The Green Bridge) fig. 
26. 

Bowron, Edgar Peters, ed. Introduction to 
the Collections. Raleigh: North Carolina 
Museum of Art, 1983, illus. 261. 

Roters, Eberhard. Galerie Ferdinand Moller: 
Die Geschichte einer Galerie fur Moderne Kunst 
in Deutschland igiy-igg6. Berlin: Ge- 
briider Mann Verlag, 1984, 155T , 226. 

Tobien, Felicitas. Lyonel Feininger. Kirchdorf/Inn: 
Berghaus Verlag, 1988, 44-45, illus. 

Introduction to the Collections, rev. ed. Raleigh: North 
Carolina Museum of Art, 1992, illus. 258. 



H\M 69 




70 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



A ''kostii" Triptych by Ansdm Kiefer 

John Hallmark Neff 



Fig. I Anselm Kiefer 

German, born 1945 

Untitled ("Ohne TiteO, 1980 - 86 

Oil, acrylic, emulsion, shellac, lead. 

charcoal, and straw mounted on 

photograph, mounted on canvas; with 

stones and lead and steel additions 

Left panel: 130 1/4 x 73 in. 

(330.8x185.4 cm) 

Center panel: 130 5/8 x 72 5/8 in. 

(331.8x184.5 cm) 

Right panel: 130 1/4 x 72 7/8 in. 

(330.8x185.1 cm) 

Overall: 130 5/8 x 222 1/4 in. 

(331.8x564.5 cm) 

North Carolina Museum of Art 

Purchased with funds from the State of 

North Carolina, W. R. Valentiner, and 

various donors, by exchange 94.3 



In December 1 986 the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam presented an exhibition of the most 
recent work of Anselm Kiefer, then forty-one, a West German on the verge of celebrity 
abroad though notorious at home for his searching reexaminations of his origins within the 
horrific legacy of recent German history. A number of important paintings were shown for 
the first time, including the large untitled triptych that is the subject of these notes (fig. 1 ).' 

This triptych, on which Kiefer worked intermittently from 1 980 to 
1 986, is one of his most enigmatic paintings, a work he concedes is "most ambiguous." 2 
Although Kiefer has made other paintings with two or more panels or even consisting of 
three sections carefully reintegrated into one unified image, Raleigh's work appears to be 
only his second actual triptych thus far. 3 And unlike the 1973 exhibition, with its Parsifal 
Room installation, consisting of four related paintings of the artist's wooden attic studio, 
three composed as a triptych, Raleigh's triptych consists of three canvases of nearly iden- 
tical size functioning as a self-sufficient composition. 4 That it is untitled and uninscribed 
within an oeuvre in which titles and handwritten words or texts play essential roles further 
suggests that this is an exceptional work to which the artist accorded special significance. 5 

Kiefer's themes and ambitions in this contentious object can only be 
introduced in the following notes. 6 But a hypothesis is proposed to suggest its complexity 
and legibility, and to relate it to Kiefer's larger project, his magnus opus, a collective quest 
of some thirty years' duration that interrelates to a remarkable degree each of his paintings, 
watercolors, photograph-based gouaches, sculptures, sculpture installations, and, not least, 
his extraordinary books. First, that his search for origins seems here to take the form of an 
oxymoron — a "Gnostic" triptych — an impossible altarpiece of blasted eerie beauty for a 
sect of religious iconoclasts with no tradition of art, sacred or otherwise. 7 Further, that this 
deconstruction seems to extend to the sacred his radical reinscriptions of other power 
symbols (such as transforming images of fascist architecture into anti-fascist memorials), 8 
Finally, that this painting functions simultaneously, paradoxically, and appropriately as both 
metaphor and quite literal manifestation of his theme of spiritual (and material) transformation. 

Acquired at auction in 1994 from the estate of Gerald S. Elliott, a 
Chicago collector known for his commitment to difficult work, for whom the artist reserved 
it, 9 Untitled is a particularly evocative example of Kiefer's ability to invent insistent physical 
objects to serve as symbolic vehicles for concepts of extreme subtlety and abstraction. 



1. Anselm Keifer: Bilder 1986->1980, exh. cat. (Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1986), cat. no. 31, illus. pp. 8 and 17 and in color pp. 82-83. 
Compare minor differences in placement of stones and funnel between Amsterdam and subsequent installations. 

2. Conversation with the artist, 13 March 1996. Unless otherwise noted, paraphrases or quotations are from this and earlier conversations in 1987 
cited in Neff, Anselm Kiefer: Briich und Einung (New York: Marian Goodman Gallery, 1987, hereafter Neff 1987). 

3. His interest in altarpiece-like paintings and tripartite images can be traced to his earliest works. Continued on p. 88 

4. The Parsifal Room panels, 1973, are illustrated and discussed in Dusseldorf, 30-32. The so-called "London triptych" consists of Parsifals III, I, 
and IV, left to right. The installation was created for his punning "Der Nibelungen Leid" (The Sorrow of the Nibelungs) exhibition at the Galerie im 
Goethe-lnstiitut/Provisorium, Amsterdam. 

5. Neff 1987, 11 and n. 1. 

6. The author is preparing a forthcoming book in which the triptych and other works will be analyzed more extensively and on additional levels of 
meaning beyond the scope of this article. 

7. For a scholarly introduction to Gnosticism, see Giovanni Filoramo, A History of Gnosticism, trans. Anthony Alcock (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990). 
Also Richard T. Wallis, ed., Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, vol. 6, Studies in Neoplatomsm: Ancient and Modern (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992). A less 
scholarly but evocative study is Jacques La Carriere, The Gnostics, foreword by Lawrence Durrell, trans. Nine Rootes (San Francisco: City Lights, 1989; 
Fr. ed. 1973). 

8. See Mark Rosenthal's discussion in Chicago, 106-121. 

9. Conversation with the artist, 13 March 1996. 

Neff 71 



By means of these emphatically hybrid objects that reject modernist 
notions of artistic purity or formalist perfection (another form of iconoclasm, a recurring 
Kiefer theme) he confronts fundamental issues of origins and survival, often with wry irony 
and humor. 10 Neither modern nor postmodern," the triptych consists of a large overpainted 
photograph, molten lead spattered onto canvas, stones, lead and steel objects, and attach- 
ments. Stylistically it combines a broadly rendered wintry German landscape and other 
figurative elements with a surface informed by postwar abstraction and Arte Povera, which 
emphasize the direct and visible working of industrial materials. Resisting categorization, 
challenging viewer and other works of art alike, it is a most significant addition to the 
museum's collection. 

Kiefer's first significant foreign exposure was the 1 980 Venice 
Biennale, when he and Georg Baselitz were selected for the German Pavilion. (That year he 
began working on Untitled.) The resulting furor over his Germanic themes brought him 
to international attention if not acclaim. First abroad, then in West Germany, important 
museum exhibitions were organized and curated in close conjunction with Kiefer so that 
each installation and catalogue was a further extension of his project, inflecting and affirm- 
ing its interconnectedness. That these exhibitions were temporary reinforced his view that 
meanings are provisional, contextual, and subject to change with each new combination of 
paintings, books, and other objects. Certain works he also reproduced in the catalogue in 
an unfinished state, a wry subversion of the "definitive" authority of museum publications. 12 

The subtitle of the Stedelijk exhibition, "Bilder 1986->1980" 
(Paintings 1 986 -> 1980), was characteristic of this process, inverting the normal, 
cumulative chronology to reflect the artist's retrospective process of reciprocal cross-refer- 
encing, linking objects old and new, years apart. Kiefer reopened previous readings of 
certain themes by reworking familiar images in new materials, and/or new media, and/or 
with often new and apparently contradictory titles, inscriptions, or no title at all. 13 In other 
instances, as with Untitled, he reworked older canvases, although this triptych was an 
exception in several respects. Over time we come to realize that each of Kiefer's works is 
simply one instant, one frame in an ongoing open-ended project of cinematic proportions 
that corresponds in real time to his life and works. Each image, substance, word, and 
process is seldom only what it appears to be but enjoys simultaneously a multivalent, often 
overdetermined existence. 

As a strategy to keep his work aggressively in flux, open to chance 
and future changes (as with his books' purposive blank pages), his general method reflects 
a Gnosticized view of creation, of an imperfect world subject to endless beginnings and 
endings, a conflicted existence in which good confronts a powerful but not absolute evil in 
a quest to restore the original unity with a distant and absent divinity. This seems reflected 

10- See Linda Hutcheon, "Provocation and Controversy: The Work of Anselm Kiefer," in Irony's Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony (London: 
Routledge, 1994), 101 -1 15. She is a latecomer to Kiefer who had problems with the work; her discussion of "discursive communities" is a model for 
issues related to the necessity of understanding Kiefer's contextual references if one is to register the irony at work in his treatment of Germanic themes 
such as Wagnerian opera. 

11. See Mark C Taylor's analysis of Kiefer in relation to Barnett Newman and Andy Warhol in "Reframing Postmodernisms," in Shadow of Spirit: 
Postmodernism and Religion, Philippa Berry and Andrew Wernick, eds. (London: Routledge, 1992), 1 1 -29. See also Taylor's fine discussion of Kiefer in 
Disfiguring: Art, Architecture, Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 290-307 

12. For Kiefer's parodies of home magazines, archaeological reports, textbooks, and a Donald Judd exhibition catalogue, see Neff 1987, esp. p. 8 and n. 4. 

13. There are numerous examples. Compare, for example, the 1974 and 1991 variants of Maikafer fliegi in Chicago, pi. 12, p. 33, and Berlin, cat. no. 
38, pp. 88-89, respectively. 

14. Cited in Chicago, 10. 

15. The particular connotations of gray for Kiefer go beyond his use of lead in its various forms, though its presence as substance downplays Kiefer's 
decision to use it also symbolically as color, specifically as a mixture of the dualities of black and white. Gray is also a Christian color of mourning, spring, 
and Lent. Kiefer's interest in the early work of Jasper Johns may also be a factor in his extensive use of gray in the 1980s. 

16. The term is that of literary critic Harold Bloom, whose Kabbalah and Criticism and studies of Blake, Yeats, and others are replete with Gnostic 



72 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



in Kiefer's statement that there is no absolute truth, there are only interpretations 14 — and 
reinforced visually in his work, where we find neither pure black nor white but instead infi- 
nite shades of gray. 15 

Also typically Gnostic is to invert orthodox doctrine (such as the Fall 
told from the perspective of the serpent). Such purposeful "misreading" 16 is applied as a 
critical method to probe other, deeper meanings beneath the literal reading of received 
texts, as in such esoteric exegetical techniques as talmudic gematria. 17 This helps us to 
understand Kiefer's predilection for ambiguity and paradox, which defy facile closure and 
which in turn keep his work critically before us, renewing them with each reconsideration. 18 
The blurring of concepts and terminology between esoteric and mystical traditions also 
contributes to this ambiguity, which Kiefer exploits as surely as he does lead or solarized 
photography. He emphasizes that he is not a scholar nor does he read as a scholar, but 
sees what he reads in terms of images, as an artist. 19 This said, Kiefer's Gnosticized 
concept and procedures, with their alchemical overtones of material and thematic transfor- 
mation, seem also akin to the Jungian psychological process of individuation or integration 
of the unconscious and conscious. 20 (Jung himself regarded the Gnostics as the "virtual 
discoverers of 'depth psychology.'") 21 

Kiefer has been aware of Gnostic concepts since the 1 960s when, 
as a student, he questioned institutionalized authority in all aspects of his life. 22 From the 
Greek gnosis or "knowledge" (as in a profound spiritual understanding of existence, not 
data), Gnosticism was a "philosophical-religious movement dedicated to personal salva- 
tion." 23 Without a central authority or text, Gnosticism encompassed an unusually diverse 
set of beliefs and practices: Christian, Jewish, ascetic, orgiastic, and so forth. 
Contemporaneous with early Christianity, Gnosticism shared with it many cosmogonic 
concepts and verbal imagery drawn from Neo-Platonism, Judaism, and Egyptian and Greek 
mystery religions, as well as elements of Manichaean dualism from Persia and beyond. 

On the basis of surviving textual fragments, the early Gnostics of 
the second to third centuries are thought to have been a well-educated, affluent elite versed 
in Greek philosophy. 24 The darkly evocative imagery of Gnostic writers that has inspired 
later artists and writers such as Blake, von Kleist, Yeats, Hesse, Kafka, and Pynchon 25 has 
mostly survived in fragments and through the accounts of later Church fathers who 
denounced and persecuted them as "heretics." Kiefer's favorite appears to be Valentinus, 
the second-century Gnostic, whose descriptions of a "negative beauty" Kiefer much 
admires. Born in Alexandria, Valentinus established a school in Rome notable for its 
rationalism and moderation. 



references. The Book of J and his latest books are studies of Gnosticism: The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation 
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992) and Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection (New York: Riverhead Books, 
1996). He sees Gnosticism as the unrecognized system behind much contemporary religion, with its focus on individual divinity. 

17. See discussion and further references in John Hallmark Neff, "Notes on Kabbalistic Ideas and Imagery," in Negotiating Rapture: The Power of Art to 
Transform Lives, Richard Francis and Sophia Shaw, eds. (Chicago: The Museum of Contemporary Art, 1996), 120-123. 

18. See Frank Kermode, Forms of Attention (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), esp. 60 and 84-85 in relation to Kiefer. 

19. Conversations with the artist, 1987 and 1996. 

20. Kiefer's use of archetypal imagery suggests a Jungian parallel. See Neff 1987, n. 14. A useful new study by a Jungian psychoanalyst reaches 
a similar conclusion. See Rafael Lopez-Pedraza, Anselm Kiefer: The Psychology of "After the Catastrophe" (New York: G. Braziller, 1996), 78. 

21. Filoramo, xiv. 

22. Conversations with the artist, 1987 and 1996. 

23. W. L. Reese, Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion, Eastern and Western Thought (Atlantic Highlands, N. J.: Humanities Press, Inc.. 1980), 
192-193. 

24. Elaine Pagels, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (New York: Random House, 1988), 75-76. 

25. See Filoramo's introduction. Kiefer's primary source of Gnostic lore has apparently been indirect, from excerpts, not specialized texts. (Conversation 



NCff 73 




74 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



A central tenet of Gnostic thought, subject to extremely subtle 
nuances of interpretation, linked the problematic origins of the world, the inherent corrup- 
tion of all matter, and the role of evil. Reasoning that a worthy divinity could not have 
created a world of suffering, the early Gnostics concluded that Creation itself was the Fall, 
not the work of the true God but that of a secondary creator god or demiurge, "powerful but 
prone to blunder." 26 As a kind of premature intervention, preempting the Supreme and 
Unknowable divinity beyond comprehension, the sensible world was thus a cosmic 
mistake. Because the Unknowable was also distant and uninvolved, there could be no 
absolute good (or evil) but admixtures of both. Unlike Christian dualism, which radically 
opposed good and evil, 27 for the Gnostic they simply coexisted, evil one aspect of the 
former, more the complement of good than its antithesis, both essential to maintain the 
dynamic equilibrium of creative and destructive forces whose interactive transformation 
was life itself. 

Although many popularized conceptions of Gnosticism play up its 
paranoiac dualities, many Gnostic sects evolved this in practice into a highly cosmopolitan 
ethos of reasonableness and openness to conflicting ideas. Discussion, reinterpretation, 
and amendment of beliefs were typical of the small Gnostic groups. Opposing views were 
overcome not with force but by persuasion. Simplistic either/or dualities were rejected "as 
merely mental categories that necessarily imply the other." 28 

Instead, from cosmic model to earthly copy, existence was con- 
ceived in terms of triads. The Gnostic cosmology was organized with an intermediary state 
buffering the two extremes, a middle way with clear affinities to the Chinese doctrine of yin- 
yang which Kiefer has symbolized in early work such as Resurrexit ("He is risen") of 
1973 (fig. 2), where heaven/earth, upper/lower, ascension/descension, male/female, 
white/black, and so forth are metaphorically evoked by his imagery and symbolic place- 
ment. (The unusual two-canvas format terminating in a blunted pyramid is also suggestive 
of an altarpiece with its outer wings folded over the center panel.) 

The tripartite structure was all-encompassing. Within the divine 
hierarchy it extended from the invisible world of the Pleroma ("fullness"), to which all 
light/spirit sought to return, to the visible, material world of generation, the two mediated 
by Sophia or "Wisdom." On a societal scale it descended from the pneumatic or higher 
spiritual level (the Gnostic elect), through the psychic level of lower soul or spirit (identified 
with the True Church), down to the hylic or material plane of pagans, gentiles, and Jews. 
The celestial model extended even to the eye, which, because it "lives on light," is the only 
bodily aperture that "escapes corruption." The white eyeball, on the circumference, corre- 
sponds to the Pleroma; the colored iris to the psychic dimension; the black pupil at center 
to the hylic abyss. 29 



with the artist, 1996.) Gnosticism had been a German scholarly specialty prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls or so-called Gnostic Gospels in 
Palestine in 1945. It was also of particular interest to Jung, who assembled the leading Gnostic specialists at his annual gatherings at Ascona. See also 
Dwight Eddins, The Gnostic Pynchon (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990). 

26. John P. Anton, "Theourgia-Demiourgia: A Controversial Issue in Hellenistic Thought and Religion," in Wallis, 15. 

27. See A. H. Armstrong, "Dualism: Platonic, Gnostic, and Christian," in Wallis, 37. 

28. Pagels, 71. 

29. La Carriere, 45. 



Neff 75 




76 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



The cosmic disaster, the Gnostic counterpart to the later kabbalistic 
concept of the Breaking of the Vessels 30 (which Kiefer has likened to ecological disasters) 
scattered the divine emanations of pure spirit or light throughout the world, in the process 
corrupting it with matter or darkness (fig. 3). This rupture of what had been perfect engen- 
dered a timeless battle waged between good and evil (light and darkness) to purify and 
restore the divine substance to the heavenly Pleroma and thereby to end the exile of sepa- 
ration. The collection, purification, and restoration of the divine substance made a reciprocal 
process linking heaven to earth in which matter would be refined as the initiate gradually 
acquired gnosis by ascending through the twelve Eons or levels that separated the world 
from the Pleroma. This was an archetypal quest in which one was tested at each level by 
evil Archons with no assurance of success. 31 Once the world was purified — matter trans- 
formed into spirit — the stage was set for Christ to return to save the elect, a redemption, 
however, that by definition could be effected only after death, following the destruction of 
the material body. 

The material, sensible world and all of its creations were thus inher- 
ently flawed, condemned to endless repetitions of creation and destruction. The Gnostics, 
in yet another inversion of Christian doctrine that saw in each aspect of creation the reflec- 
tion of divine perfection, regarded all of nature, including the human body, as corrupt. 
Sharing many beliefs with their neighbors, the Gnostics were nevertheless critical of certain 
Christian beliefs and rituals and shunned the use of images and sacred buildings, which as 
material objects profaned the divinity. The cross they despised as a symbol of Christ's 
suffering. Nor, as an initiated elite, did the Gnostics require didactic visual aids: Gnostic 
tolerance did not extend to images. 

Instead, because the material world served the Gnostic only as the 
stage for the drama of salvation, ritual initiation replaced the more passive contemplation of 
images. Through the symbolic reenactments the participating initiate acquired gnosis as 
self-knowledge, the goal of the spiritual quest. This personal acting out as the means of 
self-knowledge or understanding should be compared to Kiefer's early "actions" or 
performances, especially the controversial Besetzungen or "Occupations" in which he posed 
in front of various European tourist sites giving a mock Hitler salute. (It is also clearly related 
to Jungian theories of reenactment.) The highly charged and ambivalent morality of many 
of Kiefer's subjects and images constitutes the risk he undertakes to confront his own 
Shadow (or Jungian dark side) in what has been described as the "gray zone" where 
absolute good and evil do not exist. 32 Risking serious misunderstanding through these very 
public activities as an artist, Kiefer sought to experience, to test (if not actually to know) 
how he might have acted had he lived during the Nazi period. 



30. For a discussion of this concept of the Lurianic Kabbalah in relation to Kiefer's work, see Doreet LeVitte Harten, "Canticle for a God Unknown," 
in Anselm Kiefer: Lilith (New York: Marian Goodman, 1992). 

31 . Compare the popular children's boardgame Snakes and Ladders, "derived from . . . a game used in India for religious instruction. The Hindu sages 
taught that 'pap' (good) and 'punya' (bad) exist side by side and that virtuous behavior, represented by ladders, helped the individual to progress 
toward the ultimate perfection or 'Nirvana.'" See R. C. Bell, The Boardgame Book (Los Angeles: The Knapp Press, 1979), 134-135 Apparently such 
games were sold in Germany in the 1960s in counterculture shops. If Kiefer knew such games is unknown, but they present an interesting parallel to 
his imagery and intent in Untitled. 

32. See Steven Ungar, "Gray Zones: Vichy, Maurice Blanchot, and the Problem of Aftereffect," in Nancy A. Harrowitz, ed., Tainted Greatness- 
Antisemitism and Cultural Heroes (Philadelphia: Temple Un.versity Press, 1994), 193-209. Ungar makes the case for tolerating a gray zone where 
eth.cal issues remain open to further debate. See also the essay by Robert Gibbs, "Reading Heidegger: Destruction, Thinking, Return," also in 
Harrowitz, esp. 167 in relation to Kiefer's task. 



Ncff 77 



The range of Gnostic beliefs can only be alluded to here, but their 
appeal and subsequent threat to authority are demonstrated by the persecution of latter- 
day Gnostics as heretics by the dominant True Church and the utter destruction of the 
thriving Gnostic communities of the Bogomils in Bosnia and the Cathars (or Albigensians) 
in southern France in the thirteenth century. Employing the history of iconoclastic contro- 
versies as an index of tolerance — as in his Bilderstreit variations — Kiefer appears to 
suggest that tolerance and intolerance are historically contextual and non-exclusive virtues, 
subject to change. 

Eschewing linear notions of progress, Kiefer describes his project in 
terms of ripples spreading outward from a center (himself); later he extends the concept 
dimensionally as an outwardly ascending spiral. Within this dynamic his work "progresses" 
not by leaving themes behind for more "advanced" ones but by accretion. Keifer literally 
builds on them as they cyclically recur. Temporally he enriches them with historic references 
preceding or following 1 945, his year of birth. Geographically, his themes have expanded 
outward from Germany to the Middle East and most recently the Americas and India. 

Yet there is invariably some connection to his own origins, some 
detail or evocative association, that relates a work on some level to Kiefer himself and to 
Germany. These might be linguistic archaisms or puns in any of four or five languages or in 
his choice of materials, such as lead. Or it may be the chance interjection of current events 
that refocuses and thereby transforms his archetypal images, a process of multilayering he 
refers to as "reverse archaeology." The work thus functions not unlike a pair of binoculars 
(lenses and frame) viewed simultaneously and/or alternatively from both ends. (Perspec- 
tives, points of view, and surveillance are other Kiefer leitmotives.) 

Diachronic or historic time merges into a single continuum of funda- 
mental themes reconsidered in synchronic permutation. For example, the Chernobyl nuclear 
meltdown of 1 986 immediately triggered for Kiefer images from Jules Verne's science 
fiction overlaid with those of Egyptian solar deities and kabbalistic apocalypse. In images of 
a model reactor in his studio or a mastaba reminiscent of a nuclear pile, he evokes a linkage 
of history and myth suggesting that our ambition to channel natural forces with technology 
is an illusion. 33 Spatially, temporally, his is a vision more appropriately explicated in hyper- 
text than in linear print. 

Yet when we are aware of Kiefer's visual language — of the privileg- 
ing of ascension; the center; viewer's right over viewer's left; lighter, warmer tones; the 
lightening, filtering, or refinement of matter into more "spiritual" (or less raw) states — his 
system of visual metaphors for the Gnostic's psychic transformation is as legible as the 
sculpture program of a medieval portal. 



33. Neff 1987, esp. 58-60. 



78 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Triptychs 



Triptychs as a genre are as overdetermined a format as exists in 
Western art, a potential cliche predisposing the viewer to anticipate meaning without 
necessarily engaging with it. The triptych's frequent, sometimes facile, adoption by other 
artists, as well as Kiefer's pleasure in frustrating expectations, perhaps explain the belated 
appearance of this one. But as an instrument of public address carrying the most private of 
themes, the triptych has a potential for paradox that clearly intrigued him. 

The winged polyptych or triptych as high altar in the early sixteenth 
century in northern Europe, for example, has been aptly described as both a "machine" 
and a stage. As symbolic microcosms of the universe, centered within a church itself so 
symbolized, the most elaborate altars of the Counter-Reformation seem to have incorpo- 
rated the highest technology and ingenuity of the day to attract and to educate their audi- 
ence. With programmatic narratives, sculpted and/or painted on movable sets of wings, 
changed to accord with the liturgical calendar, perhaps even with musical automata, the 
high altar functioned very much as would a contemporary hybrid combining theater, bill- 
board, cinema, library, and interactive large-screen computer. Perhaps the most notable 
example is the Isenheim Altarpiece, a work that has had particular significance for German 
artists such as Max Beckmann (who, it seems, also incorporated Gnostic imagery into his 
famous triptychs). 34 

A winged or so-called flying altar like the Isenheim Altarpiece 
comprised multiple parts, a highly symbolic microcosmic structure representing the divine 
Anthropos: the center panel his body (or Corpus), each side panel a wing (em Flugel). The 
carved or painted panel beneath the Corpus was derSarg (coffin/casket), emphasizing "the 
inextricable association between grave and altar in the Catholic liturgy," 35 the altar serving 
as manger at Christmas (birth) and tomb at Easter (death and resurrection). Surmounting 
the center panel are the carved and Gothic spires of the Auszug, meaning departure or 
Exodus. Its shape and gilding symbolize the ascension of the spirit. (But as a railway 
station sign Auszug evokes the trains to the death camps. Lanzmann's film Shoah contains 
an unforgettable image of the railway tracks converging on Auschwitz, an image perhaps 
referenced in Kiefer's Eisen-Steig [Iron-Path, fig. 4] of 1 986.) 

The wings were opened and closed in narrative combinations deter- 
mined by the liturgical calendar and local practice. The sequential viewing of the Isenheim 
Altarpiece's different parts has been described in terms of three states, each correspond- 
ing to a set of desired devotional responses according to the respective skill of each 
worshipper. In the open state, the triptych was to be actively examined and deciphered in 
detail; in the middle state, the worshipper assumed a gradual visual fixation leading into a 



34. I am indebted to Andree Hayum's important study, The Isenheim Altarpiece: Cod's Medicine and The Painter's Vision (Princeton: Princeton 
University Press, 1989). She includes a chapter on the legacy of this altarpiece, including comments on Beckmann. See also Margot Clark, "Beckmann 
and Esoteric Philosophy," in the very useful catalogue Max Beckmann: The Triptychs (London: Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1980), 33-36. 

35. Hayum, 165. 



Ntff 79 




Fig. 4 Anselm Kiefer 

Iron-Path (Eisen-Steig), 1986 

Oil, acrylic, and emulsion on canvas, with 

olive branches, iron, and lead 

86 5/8 x 149 5/8 in. (220 x 380 cm) 

Mr. and Mrs. David Pincus 

Photograph courtesy Philadelphia Museum 

of Art 



80 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Fig. 5 Left panel of Untitled (fig. i), detail 




trance-like frame of mind; and in the final state, with 
the wings closed, the viewer was to recall the entire 
narrative contemplatively, to link annunciation to 
crucifixion to resurrection. This third stage was an 
internalized, primarily mental form of visualization no 
longer tied to its material source. 36 

On first viewing, Kiefer's trip- 
tych, too, seems almost traditional: an apparent Last 
Judgment, a theme particularly suited to triptychs, with 
the saved dramatically separated off to God's right 
(viewer's left), the damned to God's left. The artist 
and others have described the centrifugal flow across 
the three panels as an image of spiritual transforma- 
tion. Kiefer has suggested that the spatters of molten 
lead around the sieve at right constitute a later stage 
of refinement of the cluster of six lead-splashed 
stones seemingly ascending together to the viewer's 
left (fig. 5). 

At center (fig. 6) the lead ladder 
with twelve rungs suspended from a piece of pipe 
would seem to suggest the uncertain risks of spiritual 
ascension (and descension) to heaven (or, as pro- 
posed here, to the Gnostic's Pleroma, which begins with the thirteenth Eon at the horizon 
line). As an instrument of the Passion, the ladder may also stand for Christ as well as the 
cross. The ambiguous identity of the snake, alternately and simultaneously fertility, death, 
wisdom, or evil as Satan, is well known to many cultures. This snake, coiled to strike out- 
ward, is one of many serpents that inhabit Kiefer's work, from the world-encircling Midgard 
serpent (fig. 7) to the snakes and stones that Kiefer imagines to be of celestial origin and 
with which he calls up the Order of Angels (fig. 8) to the tiny "snake" lUDs or contraceptive 
coils of bent plastic-covered wire that appear pasted over landscape photographs in his 
early books on the theme of Barren Landscape. 37 

Serpent lore is endless. It is worth pointing out, however, that in addi- 
tion to differentiating his serpents heraldically by their activity, Kiefer localizes his cosmic 
crises by including the common European adder or Kreuzotter (Cross Adder) . Identified by 
its distinctive lozenge-pattern markings of black and white, which form another ladder up 
its back, or the yin-yang, it is known also as "Hell Adder" (Heilotter), exemplifying thereby 
yet another example of the reconciliation of opposites, as within the oneness of the divine. 




Fig. 6 Center panel of Untitled (fig. i) 



36. Hayum, 115. 

37. Examined by the author in Buchen in June 1987. 



Nrff 81 



Originating as one of many large, usually horizontal, photograph- 
based paintings of the countryside near his studio in Buchen (Baden-Wurttemberg) that he 
made in the late 1 970s and early 1 980s (such as figs. 8 and 9), Untitled' s precursor was 
unaccountably trisected vertically into nearly equal parts, each of which Kiefer says he 
attempted, unsuccessfully, to develop as an independent painting. Kiefer's initial failure and 
subsequent improvisation are parallel to the Gnostic's imperfect creation. His procedures 
and the resulting triptych — first one, then three, then three-as-one — may also be a more 
subtle variation on his notable earlier works from the 1 970s on the theme of the Christian 
Triune God or Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. 

The shadowy, wintry landscape that serves as the site of Kiefer's 
cosmic drama is at least three landscapes in one, which manifest rather literally the Gnostic 
notion of three principles: a very large black-and-white landscape photograph glued to the 
canvas, which was Kiefer's original image; the painted landscape with which Kiefer 
obscured it; and the subsequent atmospheric reworking with blowtorch and lead of the 
painted landscape (and serpent), after which the six lead-covered stones, lead ladder, and 
lead funnel/ sieve were added. In its order of making and substance, the triptych's schema 
seems awry parody of the Gnostic eyeball: the underlying landscape photograph, an image 
created by light (so therefore spiritualized and most distant), is overpainted, or obscured, 
with earthen pigments, the whole topped with base metals and stones, a massive cosmic 
sandwich. That this photograph is now effectively invisible further reinforces its identity with 




Fig. 7 Anselm Kiefer 

Midgard, 1980-85 

Oil, acrylic, emulsion, and shellac on 

photograph, mounted on canvas 

(in three parts) 

142 x 237 3/4 in. (360 x 604 cm) 
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; 
Museum Purchase: Gift of Kaufmann's, the 
Women's Committee, and the Fellows of the 
Museum of Art. 85.62 
Photograph by Richard A. Stoner 
Photography 



82 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



Fig. 8 Anselm Kiefer 

Order of Angels (Die Ordnung der Engel), 

1983-84 

Oil, acrylic, emulsion, shellac, and straw on 
canvas, with cardboard and lead 
130x218 1/2 in. (33° * 555 cm) 
The Art Institute of Chicago 
Restricted gift of the Nathan Manilow 
Foundation, and Lewis and Susan Manilow; 
Samuel A. Marx Fund, 1985.243 
Photograph © 1996, The Art Institute of 
Chicago. All Rights Reserved. 



Nfff 83 



the Unseen, its existence beneath the savaged paint a 
matter of faith. 

Kiefer's interest in creating mean- 
ing on multiple levels extends also to his use of language 
in multilingual puns, homophones, and archaisms, 
including puns on his own name in titles (Maikaferflieg, 
Kyffhauser) . Even Anselm: the poet Paul Celan, whose 
Todesfuge or "Death Fugue" and other poems feature 
prominently in Kiefer's work of the early 1 980s, was 
born Paul Antschel or, variously, Ancel; his transposition of 
the letters of his name to effect a new identity after 
surviving the death camps has been described as his 
shortest poem. 38 

Kiefer's simple transpositions may 
completely transform the meaning of an image and 
its associations, as when he changed "Song of the 
Nibelungs" to "Sorrow of the Nibelungs" (Lied to Leid), 
deconstructing a favorite Wagnerian image of German 
nationalists to one of remorse and remembrance. 39 He did 
the same with the name given to the sixth-century writer 
known as Pseudo-Dionysius, who forged writings in the name of the first-century Dionysius 
the Areopagite (meaning judge, from Areopagus, or "Ares's hill," site of the Athenian judicial 
court). These writings formed an influential textual basis for angelic lore in the West. By 
transposing two letters, Kiefer creates "Aeropagite," a bogus etymology that supports a 
range of aeronautical and angelic imagery, from lead propellers, planes, and rockets to 
winged angels. Kiefer's verbal and visual punning is more than simply clever; it reinforces 
the Areopagite's descriptions of the mystic's spiraling ascent through the angelic orders. 

Hence the significance of Kiefer's Untitled (more emphatic in the 
German Ohne Titel, "without title"). It has been suggested that the ambiguity of the paint- 
ing precluded the artist from naming it. 40 We may cite also the tradition of taboos against 
uttering God's names and the Gnostic belief that names were deceptive illusions. But in the 
context of a divinity unknowable, ineffable, invisible, perhaps to be nameless is to be named 
after all. For whether this triptych is primarily Catholic, alchemical, Egyptian, or Gnostic is 
finally not of critical importance because it is simultaneously all of them and more, just as 
any symbol consists of its accreted layers of history and use (like the etymologies of words, 
for example, that Kiefer surely mines in dictionaries) . Naming it, however, fixing its identity, 
would be a form of separation, even exile, from other, potential meanings. 




Fig. 9 Anselm Kiefer 
Seraphim, 1983 — 84 

Oil. straw, emulsion, and shellac on canvas, 
with woodcut 

130 1/4. x 126 1/4 in. (331 x 321 cm) 
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 
New York 

Purchased with funds contributed by Mr. 
and Mrs. Andrew M. Saul, 1984 
Photograph by David Heald ©The Solomon 
R. Guggenheim Foundation. New York. 



38. Neff 1987, n. 1, p. 13. 

39. Nicholas Serota, "Anselm Kiefer: Les Plaintes d'un Icare," in Anselm Kiefer (London: Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1981), 23. 

40. Chicago, 138 



84 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, VolumeXVH, 1997 



For Kiefer, punning is not the lowest form of humor but a creative 
doubling of his resources, of potential resonance, of ambiguity, a characteristic that recom- 
mended puns to the Gnostic minority as well. Kiefer's punning on the triptych's pair of flank- 
ing wings, taken together with the Corpus or "body" of its central panel (whose ladder 
implies human presence), transforms the ensemble into another of his symbolic angels. 
(Their opening and closing are echoed in two other meanings of derFlugel: "casement win- 
dow" and "grand piano.") 

The lead funnel (der Trichter, fig. 1 0) that Kiefer turns into a sieve 
(das Sieb) at right by covering it with a piece of wire screen (dasNetz), which effects the 
filtering of base matter, suggests another set of puns verbal and visual that link the triptych 
in most inventive ways with traditional iconography. An altar cloth suspended behind the 
high altar is called a dossol; if the cloth is extended to the sides they become "riddles," the 
textile equivalent of the triptych's wings. To riddle means "to pierce with holes" (such as 
"riddled" with corruption or anxiety ) as well as "to puzzle." While a sieve is used to refine 
materials such as flour, a Gros Sieb (large sieve) desig- 
nates "a coarse-meshed sieve" or "riddle" used to sep- 
arate corn from chaff, sand from gravel, ash from 
cinders. In the context of an altarpiece, with its depic- 
tions of the Last Judgment, the riddle seems to symbol- 
ize also the weighing of souls. Kiefer's fabricated riddle 
Rg. 10 Right panel of Untitled (fig. i). detail puns on its location: Kiefer's placing of it in the lower 

center of the right wing (the left hand of God) suggests 
that this mundane tool serves as a subtle and at least 
threefold symbol of the Archangel Michael, privileged by 
God to sound "the last trump" or trumpet that heralds 
the last resurrection. 41 

Michael serves also as "the 
weigher of souls." (This function he shares with his 
pagan prefiguration, Mercury, as well as with Osiris, 
both deities linked through alchemical lore, as Kiefer 
well knows. Osiris and Saturn, with whom Mercury is 
linked and is sometimes synonymous, are the subject of 
a number of Kiefer's major works.) The funnel's shape 
evokes the trumpet; the metal screen, the balance or 
scales used to weigh one's soul, thereby to separate 
"the sheep from the goats," the saved from the damned. 
(The verb sieben, "to sieve," also connotes "to select by 

41. It is, of course, a risk to read too much into Kiefer's work, to be overly caught up in the interconnectedness and detail of the traditions and themes 
he has chosen (in itself a measure of the resources he brings to his project). How much of this did Kiefer intend? How much that he didn't intend 
would he accept as compatible or a legitimate extension of what he did do? There is also a temptation to go only so far, which can diminish the work. 

With this in mind I refer to a conversation about the triptych in which Kiefer described the funnel-shaped object as "a shape to direct and focus, to 
concentrate forces, 'as for hearing.'" This suggested to me later an old-fashioned hearing aid, or "ear-trumpet," the kind of allusion Kiefer finds amus- 
ing for the reciprocal yin-yang of its shape as both source and receptor of sound. Finally, to suggest that reading Kiefer this closely may not be entirely 
misguided is his entitling of a large 1996 landscape painting, scattered with thousands of sunflower seeds, The Sixth Trump. See Anselm Kiefer: I Hold 
All India In My Hand, essay by Thomas McEvilly (London: Anthony D'Offay, 1996), 6, for his most recent images from the Americas and India. See 
also Del Paisaje a la Metafora: Anselm Kiefer en Mexico, Pinturas y Libros del Artista Aleman, text by Robert Liftman (Mexico City: Centra Cultural 
Arte Contemporaneo, 1996). 




Ntff 85 



examining." And the Gnostics, who believed that only they would be saved on Judgment 
Day, regarded scripture as allegorical text to be freely interpreted as riddles.) 

Kiefer's triptych — all ten by eighteen feet by half a ton — uses its 
sacred format, somber tonalities, and lead objects to pun visually on its weighty eschato- 
logical themes and spiritual enlightenment. The model ladder of lead strips, here visually 
and physically linking earth (serpent/knowledge/science) to heaven (received wisdom) — 
the twelve rungs reach to the high horizon line where the heavenly zone of the Pleroma 
commences at Eon number thirteen. It is yet another of Kiefer's visual oxymorons for spir- 
itual ascent: lead wings, lead propellers, lead aircraft, and lead rockets for starters. 
Impossible objects, they parody the concept of the reconciliation of opposites. (The com- 
posite lead funnel/sieve/filter/riddle in the right panel, itself improvised from a leftover pro- 
peller spinner, is another symbolic vehicle of transformation, like Kiefer's snakeskins and 
intestine casings, which appeared almost interchangeably in the late 1 980s.) 42 

These are also his updated counterparts for the fiery chariot, or 
Ezekiel's wheel, symbols for dynamic spiritual ascent. Even the six stones, splashed with 
lead, seem on ascendant course, caught in the centrifugal flow of darker and lighter zones 
across the three vertical panels that circumscribes an unusual horizontal mandala at center. 
The combination of four primary images (ladder, filter, serpent, and stones) on three panels 
seems reminiscent of Jung's four-part mandala and his belief that quaternity, not trinity, is 
the symbol of wholeness. 43 

As concept and practice this triptych seems also consistent with 
Gnostic (and other) texts describing the cosmogonic myth in terms of liquid metaphor, of 
flowing emanations, a feminized organic birth, a cosmogony "grown" and formless in con- 
trast to the structured, fabricated world of the masculinized archetypal "cosmic potter." 44 In 
this perspective, Kiefer's atypical dissection of his original canvas would seem another 
Gnostic flaw because he usually recycled his failed paintings by composting them in large 
dumpsters, harvesting and using the fragments as large-scale collage, less "paintings" than 
vestigial images, a residue rife with allusion. Kiefer's triptych, not unlike Warhol's Oxidation 
Paintings and Polke's toxic triptychs, is both "made" and "grown," still evolving. As a hybrid 
assemblage of diverse materials and often conflicting processes, images, and things, 
Untitled follows the Gnostic middle road, a condition attributed to the postmodern. For 
instance, Kiefer's encrusted pigments of refined organic earths and minerals replicate liter- 
ally in relief, as well as figuratively, the landscape terrane. His materials are seldom if ever 
displaced by the images they create; their tangible, tactile identities as stuff never succumb 
completely to illusion. 

As a further, Gnostic inversion of our operative standards of beauty 
and condition, this strange triptych (already several times transformed) is still "unfinished," 



42. See Berlin, cat. no. 36, Die Himmelsleiter (The Heavenly Ladder), 1991 , for a snakeskin suspended vertically from the top to bottom of the canvas, 
and, p. 154, an illustration of Schwarze Calle (Black Call), 1989, the alleged source of one of the Four Temperaments, here the melancholic, saturnine 
temperament associated with artists. The translucent intestine casing is arranged across a sheet of lead like one of Kiefer's "astral-serpents." A variation 
of this composition, AD. (for Albrecht Durer), which combines the intestine with a chalk drawing of Durer's rhombohedron from his famous engraving, 
Melencolia I (1514), is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. See also Neff 1987, pp. 10-11 and notes 13-16. 

43. See C G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, trans. R. F. C. Hull (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968 [1944]), 25-26. 

44. Patricia Cox Miller, " 'Plenty Sleeps There': The Myth of Eros and Psyche in Plotinus and Gnosticism," in Wallis, 232-234. 



86 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



still "open to history," as a consequence of its "inherent vice" (a conservator's euphemism 
for the self-destructive properties intrinsic to certain materials but a Gnostic concept if ever 
there was one). Untitled, by virtue of its theme of last things, is a more apocalyptic varia- 
tion of Kiefer's many "open" books. The triptych paradoxically, perversely, "completes" 
itself through its slow but ineluctable material dissolution, sloughing its skin like a snake (a 
traditional symbol of rebirth and resurrection). Meaning and disintegration are linked, the 
former achieving its full import as concept even as the material object dissipates, denying 
closure by theoretically engendering a new cycle of works from the detritus. 

In retrospect it is possible to see the Gnostic concepts throughout 
Kiefer's project (reaffirming that "Gnostic" can mean many and often contradictory things). 
His works affirm, for example, a model of openendedness, of multivalent and multilayered 
meanings, the coexistence of mutually exclusive concepts responding to changing needs. 
Kiefer has expressed a conception of existence that he explains in terms of an ongoing 
process of cyclic transformations, of multiple beginnings and endings. He has described 
this in terms of an outward spiral or of ripples spreading outward from a fixed center (the 
artist standing in the water) .This is a concept shared with Neo-Platonism and other belief 
systems of late antiquity that reject the notion of a single creation or the end of time. Like 
the Gnostics, Kiefer appears to reject the illusion of closure, the hierarchic finality of 
either/or dualities. He regards such choices as false, an illusion of the possibility of absolute 
purity or wholeness that separates one belief from another, risking intolerance and disaster. 

If traditional triptychs convey desired outcome and dire conse- 
quences in no uncertain terms, there is no such reassurance in Untitled. Instead we see a 
contaminated landscape perhaps beyond repair. There are no clear winners or losers — 
there seems to be no one at all. Here we seem to have a triptych — the vehicle for the 
central image of the Counter-Reformation (then engaged in "a war of images" with an icon- 
oclasticizing Protestantism) — reinscribed with symbols ambiguous but contextually 
consistent with the Gnostic "heretics" whom the early Church vigorously suppressed. That 
these iconoclasts were massacred in part for their criticism of church corruption, including 
the use of images, is doubly ironic and suggests that it would be premature to view Untitled 
merely as a kind of coy heresy, for surely it is as secular as sacred, directly linked, as always, 
to his project, to the recovery of identity from exile. 

As an artist born in Germany, Kiefer has said that he does not have 
the option to deal only with art history but must deal with "real history."* 5 In his work he has 
been likened to an alchemist, a stage designer, 46 a film director, a storyteller, and most 
recently a psychologist. But he is also pre-eminently an extraordinary teacher with a gift for 
healing, an ambition that makes some critics very nervous. His project sometimes walks a 
thin line, risking portentousness, even kitsch, the ridiculous rather than the sublime. But in 



45. Conversations with the artist, May-June 1987. It should be added, however, that since his move to southern France after the reunification of 
Germany in 1990, Keifer has resisted being identified as a "German" artist, including refusing to participate in exhibitions organized according to the 
artists' countries of origin. 

46. Adam Gopnik proposes that "the deepest roots of his art lie in German theatrical design of the twenties — in Adolphe Appia," in "Alchemist" 
(The Art World), The New Yorker (21 November 1988): 138. 



Ncff 87 



doing so he attempts to make works of art that have meaning beyond the studio or museum. 

Through his invention of particularly resonant symbols such as this 
one, Kiefer compels us to move beyond literal appearance and habit, to risk engagement 
with it and work it through. As in his own controversial reenactment of fascist taboo, he 
dares us to bring our experience of his work and its ideas onto the conscious level and into 
memory. Unlike the Gnostic minority, for whom metaphorical ambiguity was also a means to 
avoid detection, Kiefer exploits this ambivalence in his work to attract it. His uneasy 
altarpiece challenges our direct participation as well as the reflection his themes demand if 
we are to comprehend them and the personal choices they symbolically exact. 



John Hallmark Neff, formerly director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, is now 
director and chief curator of the Terra Museum of American Art, also in Chicago. His Anselm 
Kiefer: Bruch und Einung appeared in 1 987. 



3. Continued from p. 77 Born and raised a Catholic, though now apparently non-practicing, he spent three weeks in 1966 at the Dominican 
monastery La Tourette at Eveux, near Lyons (the building was designed by Le Corbusier in the late 1950s). His purpose was to see how a modern 
artist could successfully translate sacred concepts. (One is tempted to compare the spare concrete structures of the monastery imprinted by the 
formwork with the broad expanses of sheet lead Kiefer employed in such works as cat. nos. 20-22, 26, 30, 37, 41 in Anselm Kiefer, exh. cat. [Berlin: 
Nationalgalerie Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 1991, hereafter Berlin].) Kiefer's earliest work is replete with images that mix 
Teutonic and Catholic symbols — shamen, initiates, saints, crucifixes, and angels — the beginning of his working through Western and other religious 
traditions. Kiefer has found images for concepts in Jewish and Christian mysticism, for example, seldom attempted by visual artists. 

His 1977 "Autobiography," reprinted in English in Anselm Kiefer (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1987, hereafter Chicago), 11, lists 
"Paintings on Trinity, Quaternity, above-below, l-Thou" immediately after "Study with Joseph Beuys, Dusseldorf." Beuys, who openly identified 
himself as a kind of Christian shaman, assisted his own teacher, Ewald Matare (1887-1965) with the new south portal doors of the Cologne Cathedral 
(circa 1951) and integrated spiritual concepts directly into his work. See Ewald Matare, Retrospective das Plastische Werk (Cologne: Kolnsicher 
Kunstverein, 1987), 47. See also Friedhelm Mennekes, Beuys zu Christus/ Beuys on Christ (Stuttgart: Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk Gmbh., 1989) 
Kiefer's Raleigh triptych may be, among other things, an homage to Beuys, who died on 23 January 1986 (see n. 6). 

In the early 1970s, Kiefer made several diptychs as well as irregularly shaped two-part canvases, some consisting of two rectangular canvases, 
often with the smaller centered above the larger. With his triptychs in mind, these earlier works resemble the shapes of closed altarpieces, their wings 
folded over the center panel, suggesting the imaginary existence of three additional panels beneath, whose connection to what we actually see is 
left to our imagination. See the 1973 Father, Son, Holy Ghost in Anselm Kiefer, annotated catalogue by Jiirgen Harten (Dusseldorf: Stadtische 
Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, 1984, hereafter Dusseldorf), fig. 3, p. 22, and in color Chicago, pi. 9, p. 27. It is perhaps significant that these two-part 
paintings frequently feature religious imagery and are often untitled. See Chicago, fig. 20, p. 18. 

The existence of triptych-like images within other paintings such as triple windows, doors, openings, and mirrors is not unusual. See Chicago, 
figs. 23, 76; pis. 57, 62. He has also made a number of very large singular works consisting of two or three canvases joined closely together, perhaps 
to facilitate shipping and to distribute their considerable weight. See Midgard (fig. 7). Altarpieces and their narrative and associative potential clearly 
interest him He displayed in an unfinished state a large canvas reminiscent of Warhol's Oxidation Paintings or so-called "piss paintings" mounted upon 
a large metal stand positioned in the gallery adjacent to one of his large, reliquary-like lead aircraft (which as vehicles of mediation and transformation 
function as contemporary angels). See Berlin, cat. nos. 24, 54, pp. 68-69, 146-147. Even his monumental library installations of lead books and glass 
function like altars, whether as standing sefirothic trees from the Kabbalah or standing like open books and evoking triptychs. 



88 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



PROVENANCE 

Gerald S. Elliott, Chicago; Elliott Estate sale, 
Christie's, New York, 2 November 1994, lot 16; sold 
to NCMA. 



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 

J. W. C. [John W. Coffey]. "Anselm Kiefer's Untitled 
Triptych." North Carolina Museum of Art Preview 
(Winter 1994 — 95) : cover, 2-5, illus. 



EXHIBITION HISTORY 

Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, "Anselm Kiefer: 
Bilder ig86->ig8o," 20 December 1986-8 February 
1987; catalogue, no. 31, illus. 8, 17, and 
82-83. 

Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 
"Anselm Kiefer," 5 December 1 9 8 7 — 
31 January 1988, then traveling; cata- 
Center panel of Untitled (fig. 1), detail logue, discussed 138, listed 169, illus. 

pi. 78. 

Paris, Musee National d'Art Moderne, 
Centre Georges Pompidou, and La 
Grande Halle, La Villette, "Magiciens 
de la Terre," 18 May — 14 August 1989; 
not in catalogue. 

Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, "Affinities 
and Intuitions; The Gerald S. Elliott Collection of 
Contemporary Art," 12 May -29 July I99O; cata- 
logue, discussed 152 — 153, no. 70, illus. pi. 98. 




Complete credit listing for Breaking of the Vessels (fig. 3) 
The St. Louis Art Museum 

Purchase: Funds given by Mr. and Mrs. George Schlapp, Mrs. Francis A. Mesker, Henry L. and Natalie Edison Freund Charitable Trust, Arthur and Helen 
Baer Charitable Foundation, Marilyn and Sam Fox, Mrs. Eleanor J. Moore, Mr. and Mrs. John Wooten Moore, Donna and William Nussbaum, Mr and 
Mrs. James E. Schneithorst, Jain and Richard Shaikewitz, Mark Twain Bancshares, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Gary Wolff, Mr. and Mrs. Lester P. Ackerman, Jr., 
Hon. and Mrs. Thomas F. Eagleton, Alison and John Ferring, Mrs. Gail K. Fischmann, Mr. and Mrs. Solon Gershman, Dr. and Mrs. Gary Hansen, Mr. 
and Mrs. Kenneth Kranzberg, Mr. and Mrs. Gyo Obata, Warren and Jane Shapleigh, Lee and Barbara Wagman, Mr. John Weil, Museum Shop Fund, 
Contemporary Art Society, and Museum Purchase, Dr. and Mrs. Harold J. Joseph, Estate of Alice P. Francis, Fine Arts Associates, J. Lionberger Davis, Mr. 
and Mrs. Samuel B. Edison, Mr. and Mrs. Morton D. May, Estate of Louise H. Franciscus, Anonymous Gift, Miss Ella M. Boedeker, and Museum 
Purchase, by exchange 1:1991. 



Neff 89 



ThcLqflcyoflV.R.I/fllmtincr 



Selected Acquisitions 

The Museum's collection has been enriched by its first director in a number of ways. W. R. 
Valentiner made gifts to the Museum during his lifetime — and energetically used his influ- 
ence to persuade others to follow his example. (It is estimated that, because of his contacts, 
more than 1 50 works of art were donated to the Museum during Valentiner's two-year 
tenure as director.) Valentiner bequeathed eighty-four objects to the Museum, and with the 
help of various contributors the Museum was able to purchase additional works from his 
estate. A complete checklist of all the Valentiner-related acquisitions would reveal remark- 
able quality and scope, ranging over several centuries and countries and media. Pictured on 
the following pages is a selection from the modern works of art. 



90 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 




t. William Baziotes 

American, 1912 — 1963 

Moon Animal, 1949 

Watercolor with ink and charcoal 

on paper 

14 1/2 x 12 in. (36.8 x 30.5 cm) 
Bequest of W. R. Valentiner 65.IO.I 

2. Max Beckmann 

German, 1884 — 1950, active 

in United States from 1947 

Self- Portrait, 1932 

Watercolor and charcoal on paper 

24 3^ x 18 7/8 in. (62.8 x 48 cm) 

Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65.IO.4 



3- Henry Bertoia 
American, 1915 — 1978 
Tree, 1958 

Brazed welded-metal model 

14 x 10 1/2 x 6 1/4 in. 

(35-5x26. 6x15. 9cm) 

Bequest of W. R. Valentiner 65.IO.7 



4. Lovis Corinth 

German, 1858-1925 

Female Figure , 19 18 

Watercolor on paper 

13x10 in. C33x25-4cm) 

Bequest of W. R. Valentiner 65.IO.II 

5-Charles Demuth 

American, 1883-1935 

Flowers, circa 1915 

Watercolor on paper 

18 1/8 x 12 in. (46 x 30.5 cm) 

Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65.IO.i2 



6. Richard Diebenkorn 

American, 1922 — 1993 

Untitled, 1951 

Gouache on paper 

27 x 24 in. (68.6 x 6l cm) 

Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65.IO.i4 



TteLtQQiyofW.R.Valaitim 91 




7~8. Alberto Giacometti 

Swiss, 1901 - 1966 

The Studio, 1948 

Graphite on paper 

Image, recto 18 3/8 x II 3/4 in. 

(46.7 x 29.8 cm) 

Image, verso IO x 12 1/4 i n - 

(25.4 x 31. 1 cm) 

Sheet 22 x 15 1/8 in. (55.9 x 38.4 cm) 
Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65.IO.20 



9. Adolph Gottlieb 

American, 1903 — 1974 

Incubus, 1947 

Gouache on paper 

23 1/4 x 17 3/8 in. (59 x 44.I cm) 

Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65. 10.21 



IO. Morris Graves 

American, born 1910 

Raven m Moonlight, 1943 

Tempera on paper mounted on board 

22 1/2 x 26 3/4 in. (57.2 x 68 cm) 

Bequest of W. R. Valentiner 65.10.23 



II. Erich Heckel 
German, 1883-1970 
Landscape, 1921 

Watercolor and charcoal on paper 
18 x 22 7/8 in. (45.7 x 58.I cm) 
Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65. 10. 26 



92 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



12. Barbara Hepworth 
British, 1903 — 1975 
Curlew II — String Figure, 1957 
Copper and string 

9 3/4x13x7 1/4 in. 

(24.8 x 33 x 18.4 cm) 

Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65.IO.27 

13. Vasily Kandinsky 
Russian, 1866 — 1944, active 
in Germany and France 

^pnehmen (also known as Croissance) . 1933 
Oil, egg tempera, and ink on paper 
20 I/16 x 12 3/8 in. (51 x 31.4 cm) 
Bequest of W. R. Valentiner 65. 10. 29 



14- Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 

German, died Switzerland, 1880 — 1938 

Flowers, Still Life, circa 1935 

Watercolor on paper 

20 1/8 x 14 in. (51.2 x 35.5 cm) 

Bequest of W. R. Valentiner 65.IO.32 



15- Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 
German, died Switzerland, 1880 - 
Young Shepherd with Flower, 191 8 
Oil with small additions of wax 
on canvas 

27 1/2 x 24 in. (69.8 x 61 cm) 
Anonymous gift 63.23. 1 



1938 



16. Oscar Kokoschka 
Austrian, 1886 — 1980 
Woman's Head, circa 1920 
Crayon on paper 

27 1/8 x 19 5/8 in. (68.9 x 49.9 cm) 
Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65.IO.37 



17. Wilhelm Lehmbruck 
German, 1881 — 1919 
Headofa Woman, 1913 — 14 
Plaster 

17 1/2 x 13 1/2 x 9 3/4 in. 
(44.4. x 34.3 x 24-8 cm) 
Bequest of W. R. Valentiner 65.IO.42 



TkltQQtyQfW.RMmtim 93 




l8. Henry Moore 

British, 1898 -1986 

Family Group, 1949 

Ink, wash, crayon, and graphite 

on paper 

II 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (29.2 x 24.I cm) 
Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65.IO.47 



19. Robert Motherwell 

American, 1915 — 1991 

He de France, 1952 

Watercolor on paper 

7 1/2 x 10 5/8 in. (19 x 27 cm) 

Gift of W. R. Valentiner 57.34.6 



20. Emil Nolde 
German, 1867-1956 
Landscape, circa 1925 
Watercolor on paper 
12 1/4 x 19 in. (31. 1 x 4 



1) 



Bequest of W. R. Valentiner 65.IO.50 

21. Emil Nolde 

German, 1867-1956 

StiULife, Tulips, circa 1930 

Watercolor on paper 

18 3/4 x 13 7/8 in. (47.6 x 35.2 cm) 

Bequest of W. R. Valentiner 65.IO.5i 



22. Serge Poliakoff 

French, born Russia, 1906 - 1969 

Abstract, circa 1955 

Gouache on paper 

17 3/8 x 23 1/4 in. (44.I x 59 cm) 

Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65. 10. 52 



94 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997 



23- Christian Rohlfs 

German, 1849-1938 

Still Life, circa 1938 

Gouache on paper 

23 1/2 x 18 3/4 in. (59-7x47-7 

Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65.10.56 



24. Karl Schmidt- Rottluff 

German. 1884 -1976 

Gothic Spire, 1921 

Watercolor on paper 

19 1/2 x 14 in. (49.5 x 35.5 cm) 

Purchased with funds from the State of 

North Carolina 64. 5. 1 

25- Karl Schmidt-Rottluff 
German. 1884-1976 
Still Life, circa 1922 
Oil on canvas 

29x255/8 in. (73.7x65.1 cm) 
Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65. IO. 59 



26. David Smith 
American. 1906 — 1965 
Classic Figure III, 1945 
Bronze 

13 x 7 x 4 in. (33 x 17.8 x 10.2 cm) 
Bequest ofW. R. Valentiner 65.IO.60 



27- Graham Sutherland 
British, 1903 - 1980 
Reclining Stone Form, 1948 
Gouache, ink, charcoal, and wax 
crayon on paper 

8 13/16 x II 3/8 in. (22.4 x 28.9 cm) 
Bequest of W. R. Valentiner 65.IO.63 



Tk Legacy of W. R. Valentiner 95 



Photographic Archivist: William Holloman 
Editor: Susan L. Ransom 
Designer: Deborah Littlejohn 



Printed by Carter Printing Company, Richmond, Virginia 



North Carolina Museum of Art 

2IIO Blue Ridge Road 

Raleigh, North Carolina 27607-6494. 

(9 r 9) 839-6262 



The North Carolina Museum of Art, Lawrence J. Wheeler, Director, is an agency of the North Carolina 
Department of Cultural Resources, Betty Ray McCain, Secretary. Operating support is provided through state 
appropriations and generous contributions from individuals, foundations, and businesses. 



96 North Carolina Museum of Art Bulletin, Volume XVII, 1997